The Universal International Exhibition held in Paris in 1900 may now seem to be a glorious celebration of 19th century values, Imperialism and eclecticism. This included displays of real colonial '...natives', camels and a mediaeval French village complete with people in mediaeval costumes. There were buildings ranging from Serbian byzantine to English Jacobean to Austrian Gothic. But it was also intended to look forward to the new century and was considered - by the general public at the time, to contain the latest in modern architecture end design - epitomised by the Art Nouveau. But the Art Nouveau was often debased to fairground kitsch or even confused with the exuberances of the neo-baroque and neo-rococo. Tim Benton uses contemporary still photographs, waitings and rare archive film to recreate this mammoth event and investigate the tangle of artistic ideas from which the Modern Movements of the 20th century were to emerge.
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|A305, History of architecture and design 1890-1939
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|BBC Open University
|Exhibitions; International Exhibition of Arts (Paris 1925)
|Architecture; Interior decoration
|Programme opens with Pathe News film of crowds at the Paris exhibition. Robert Mill reads an extract from a popular guide book describing the exhibition. Stills of pavilions, river panorama, Eiffel Tower, etc. Music. Tim Benton introduces the programme, describing the exhibition as a reflection of the complex web of architectural ideas and traditions prevalent at the turn of the century. Details of Grand Palais and the Chateau d'eau. Benton describes the layout and composition of the exhibition. Map and perspective drawing. Archive film of traffic crossing the Pont de l'Alma, the elevated electric railway around the site, and the electric travolator. Benton describes features of the various pavilions, with further extracts from the guide book read by Mill. Music. Sequence of stills includes: detail of the Petit and Grand Palais, the Palace of Mining and Metallurgy, the Palais des Arts, the Esplanade dee Invalides, and a panorama of pavilions fronting the river: Italy, Turkey, USA, Austria, Bosnia, Hungary, Britain, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Spain, Monaco, Sweden, Greece and Serbia. Shots of the 'medieval Paris' reconstruction on the right bank. Shots of folk exhibits in the Algerian, Senegal, Russia, Egyptian and Indo-Chinese pavilions. Shotsof the Tower of the World and its scenes of China, Spain, Ankor. Benton comments in a little more detail on two of the more successful pavilions: the Swedish and the Finnish. He describes some of the exhibits, looking at the furniture section of the Musee Retrospectif in the Engineering Palace. Historical and art nouveau styles are included. He shows one of the more extravagant 'funfair' pavilions which some people mistook for true art nouveau: Electricite the Fun Palace, the Champagne Pavilion, and the Binet Arch. Among buildings of real structural and aesthetic interest he instances the Pavilion Bleu. Finally he compares the Paris exhibition with the Turin Exhibition of 19O2, a much more consciously modernistic programme. Stills of the Automobile Pavilion, the Photographic Pavilion, a study by Bernard Pankok, and a sitting room by J.M. Olbrich. Summing up, he describes the Paris exhibition as chaotic. Credits over more stills from Paris Exhibition. Music.
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