About the WorkDeco – simply and appropriately titled – is the quintessential image of an era now defined by Erté’s art style. Originally created in 1924 as a unique design for the Women’s Home Journal, the image from which Erté based this timeless sculpture resonates with the genius of his life’s work.
Set atop a geometric base in gold and black, Erté’s figure in this sculpture strikes a confident, sophisticated post. Here, the artist’s fashion design is understated, though elegantly simple. With a sleeveless top that begins high on the neck, the line of the dress hugs the figure’s body draws close to the leg and finishes with a split vent in front. The simplicity of the black fabric is interrupted by a golden design, geometrically patterned – first as tiny squares that line the blouse from neck to waist, then continuing as a triangle that flows to the vented skirt. The look is complete with dangling gold chains, each completed by a sparkling jewel.
About the Artist
Erté was born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23rd, 1892 and was raised amidst Russia's social elite. At the age of five he created an evening gown for his mother and managed to persuade the adults to craft it, they were astounded by the results. In 1912, Romain left St. Petersburg for Paris at the age of nineteen with the aim of becoming an artist. After working with Paul " Le Magnifique" Poiret on several theatrical productions Romain, still under the pseudonym of Erte, began to work more independently. He hand-crafted original costume and fashion designs for many of the era’s most renowned actresses, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Anna Pavlova, Norma Shearer, and others. His masterpieces for the stage included extravagant production designs at venues such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Casino de Paris, and the Paris Opera. In 1915 he began his long professional relationship with Harper's Bazaar and created 240 covers for the esteemed magazine. For 6 months in 1916, Erté simultaneously worked with Vogue as well. As a result of his highly publicized success, Erté would later be called the father of the ‘Art Deco’ movement.