Twiggy, Barbra Streisand, and Stella McCartney Commemorate the Forgotten Father of Art Deco in a New Book

Detail of "Diamond," from Erté's "Six Precious Stones" series
(Courtesy Chalk & Vermilion and Sevenarts Ltd)

Art Deco is on its way for a big comeback next year, with labels like Gucci, Etro, and Ralph Lauren taking inspiration from the 1920s movement for their spring/summer 2012 runways; “The Roaring ‘20s” exhibition at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum; and Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby” scheduled to be released at the end of 2012. While most people are familiar with the illustrations, buildings, and designs of Art Deco, the artists behind it remain relatively unknown.

An exhibition at New York's Martin Lawrence Gallery and a new tome, entitled “Erté: A Celebration,” features the work of the man who was known as the father of Art Deco, Romain de Tirtoff (he went by Erté because of the way his initials, R.T., are pronounced in French ). The Russian-born Erté moved to Paris in the early 1900s, where he worked under fashion designer Paul Poiret from 1913 to 1914. In 1915, Harper’s Bazaar gave Erté his first cover contract. He would go on to design over 200 covers for the magazine, along with illustrations for magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Erté took his aesthetic to the stage, where he created costumes and sets for the Ziegfeld Follies and the Folies Bergère, as well as to film, where he would design costumes for movies like “Ben-Hur” and “The Mystic.”


“Erté: A Celebration” and the Martin Lawrence exhibition celebrates 120 years of the artist, showcasing his illustrations and sculptures, including one of his most famous drawings, ”Symphony in Black,” which depicts a chic woman dressed in the title color, complete with a headpiece and fur stole, with a black greyhound. Erté’s Alphabet Series and Numerals Series, along with essays by fans (who include Twiggy, Barbra Streisand, and Stella McCartney) on their personal encounters with him are also in the book, an elegant retrospective of one of the most influential artists of the Art Deco period.

Click on the photo gallery above to see images from “Erté: A Celebration,” published by Chalk & Vermillion and Sevenarts Ltd and “Erté," an exhibition at the Martin Lawrence Gallery through December.