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Mass consumption chic

Art deco made mass production into art. How long before our own age of consumerism is also artified, and the McDonald's "M" winds up in the V&A?

By Paul Barker   May 2003

The point about art deco is that it was the first mass-production design style. The best-known English ceramicist in the Victoria and Albert’s lavish art deco exhibition is Clarice Cliff. She wasn’t a craft potter. She designed her cups and teapots in bright oranges and greens for a Stoke-on-Trent factory, which sold them in department stores. Vast numbers were manufactured. As fashions changed, vast numbers were thrown away. Those that remain fetch increasing prices.

The identical life cycle, from ornament to dustbin, befell all those bronze, bare-breasted girls, hair blowing in the wind, hands grasping at greyhounds, on hundreds of…

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