cover image Twentieth-Century Ornament

Twentieth-Century Ornament

Rizzoli, Woodham, Jonathan M. Woodham. Rizzoli International Publications, $65 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1221-9

A smorgasbord for browsers, a repository of images for designers and craftspeople in all fields, this delightful, inclusive survey deciphers the visual culture of everyday life. Ornament is taken in its widest context, including everything from hotel architecture to Russian folk ceramics, food processors, hi-fi sets, Swatch watches and posters. Woodham, a British lecturer in design history, makes tantalizing connections: an Austrian abstract fabric design is shown to resemble Gustav Klimt's paintings; architectural monumentalism is tracked in both Soviet Russia and Germany of the 1930s. The outstanding illustrations, combined with a chronological narrative, lend coherence to the nearly impossible task of tracing modern ornamentation in all its forms and styles, from roadside vernacular to new wave. (Nov.)