Art Deco : Cinemas with innovative architecture
Synthesizing all forms of the arts, cinemas were the favourite venue of Art Deco architects as theatres were the opportunity for them to create amazing designs that have not aged over the years.
The Roaring Twenties were a major period in cinema history. At the time, sound was being developed via Hollywood. The Art Deco movement was very interested in cinema as an art form. In 1923, the movie L’Inhumaine by Marcel L’Herbier perfectly illustrates this thriving collaboration, with its modern decorative set designs created by Robert Mallet-Stevens and Fernand Léger. If silent film cinemas were rich in extravagant decorations, the new concerns of architects, i.e. acoustics, led to purifying forms, tending towards simplicity and elegance.
Most large cities built real ‘movie palaces,’ which could accommodate thousands of people. Louise Brooks and Gaby Morlay burst onto the screen in films released in these new cinemas created in France by architects Montaut and Gorska. One of the first cinemas of this kind in France was called the Louxor, in the 10th district of Paris. Built in an Egyptian-style, it started a new Art Deco trend favouring a more exotic ornamental style. Luxurious, it was transformed into a nightclub in the 1980s and abandoned in the 1990s, before being renovated and reopened in 2013. Once again a cinema, the Louxor remains a magical place.
In the early 1930s, the Grand Rex was built near the Grands Boulevards. A smaller version of the Radio City Music Hall in New York, this huge venue (2,000m2) was decorated with colourful walls evoking the Art Deco villas of the French Riviera. The ornate facade of the building was designed by architect Auguste Bluysens (Le Touquet’s casino). The interior (created by Maurice Dufrêne) inspired by imaginary cities, still reflects the audacity of this period. Today, a cinema (including 3D facilities), a theatre, an interactive film museum and an unmissable venue on the clubbing scene, the Rex remains France’s most legendary cinema.
The Ile-de-France, too, has its own beautiful Art Deco cinema: the Palace in Beaumont-sur-Oise. Immortalized in Eddy Mitchell’s TV show, La Dernière Séance, the Palace is a cult cinema. Here, the inspiration is maritime. It still has the facade of a cruise ship, with its port holes and its beautiful curves, very popular in the 1930s. Its elegant red and white facade, decorated with three rings, is legendary. Having been a music hall, a dance hall and a roller skating rink, this multicultural venue even hosted the first concert by Charles Aznavour. Listed as an historic monument, it has returned to its first love: cinema, which includes 3D facilities.