Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bad taste of the town

Lee has strong tastes of his own. He says he pointed out to John Hunt that the "golden age" of cruise ships coincided with the early 20th-century period of art-deco design, and asked whether there were any art-deco entries. Hunt, he says "virtually shuddered."

Wilson, Simon.
"The Waterfront Wars."
2010, 40-49.

Apparently, this incident occurred during the competition for the now-forgotten Party Central on Queen's Wharf. John Hunt, Professor of Architecture at Auckland, and leader of the expert panel for the competition was questioned by Mike Lee, leader of the Auckland Regional Council. The Professor's reaction is understandable. Clearly, my previous support for Mr Lee was misguided. Anyone who could wish Art Deco on the people of Auckland is clearly not the man for the job of running the supercity.

I only mention this now because I am stuck inside writing a paper about Napier, the Art Deco city. My argument will be that everything you know about Art Deco is wrong: it is not a legitimate style of art, still less of architecture; even if it were, the buildings of Napier would not be examples of it. Art Deco was invented in the Sixties and became acceptable in the Eighties. What the citizens in fancy-dress are preserving is not the architecture of the Thrirties but the tastes of the Eighties.

It will be rad. Now all I have to do is write it.


stephen said...

I very much look forward to reading this paper, if you will share it. But there had better be at least a paragraph that establishes the meaning of the word "legitimate" when it qualifies "style of art."

Paul said...

Thank you.I shall share it and I shall define legitimacy in terms of a style being recognised as such by contemporary commentators (rather than being defined later as happened with Art Deco) and having distinctive characteristics. Some theory on the part of its makers would help, but is not essential.

Robyn said...

I also look forward to reading it.

I have three observations on the Napier style of Art Deco worship:

1. The flapper style dresses favoured in dress-up events are somewhat flattering to the bumpy puku of a middle-aged woman, even though middle-aged women didn't wear those sorts of dresses the first time around.

2. The art of Jack Vettriano is the perfect complement to the Art Deco of Napier.

3. The non-Art Deco buildings of Napier stand out more, particularly anything from the post-quake, pre-'80s era.

Paul said...

1. Yes, no; nor did women wear them after the Crash of 1929

2. Indeed: both were invented in the Eighties.

3. I would say that none of them are Art Deco, since there is no such thing as Art Deco architecture. But then I am ornery.

Anonymous said...

That Metro article was one of the funniest things I have read this year. I think Mike Lee also asked for something with lots of glass and shit for the wharf - but I'm probably misremembering.