Paris World's Fair 1925

International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts

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Quick List Info

Paris 1925

Dates Open - April 29 to November 8, 1925.

Attendance - Numbers for the 1925 fair through a variety of sources range all over the place. Perhaps the best number seen, which was likely through November 3, was from the London Times of November 4. 15,991,746 visitors, already including 1,576,469 free admissions. Some sources state a paid attendance of 15,019,000.

International Participants - 22 nations plus colonies.

Total Cost - Cost 13 million (assumed $ as per New York Times). Costs were paid by issue of lottery bond loan, which was enthusiastically subscribed by public. Expenses were estimated at 80,480,000 francs with estimated receipts 95,180,000 francs.

Site Acreage - 57 hectares (141 acres).

Sanction and Type - Prior to the Bureau of International Exhibitions. Paris 1900 would be considered a Specialized registered event today like those on the 5 years of the decade. It also has some relationship to smaller, although its size and duration are larger, the special recognized world expos of the 2-3 or 7-8 years of the decade.

Ticket Cost - Unknown.

Photo top center: Postcard from the 1925 Paris Art Deco exposition, 1925. Original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Top: Poster from the Paris 1925 Exposition, 1925, Robert Bonfis. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Bottom: Overview from the Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, 1925. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts

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History of the Event

Paris 1925 Exposition

They were already losing their place in the economic and military power structure of the world, but France, as had been prevalent since the beginning of World's Fairs and exhibitions, sure loved to, and wanted to, put on a fair. Now, unlike the huge Paris 1900 which focused on the Universal aspects of all human endeavors, this fair would focus on style, Style Moderne, or Art Deco, yes, decoration. They were afraid that Germany would overtake them in the ornamental and industrial arts. They should have been worried about whether Germany would overtake them from an economic and military standpoint, which their participation in future Paris fairs would point toward and German tanks would prove again in 1940.

Yes, it would be an Art Deco fair, run mostly by private dollars, and take place on a smaller site along the main avenues where traditional French fairs were held from the Esplanade des Invalides on one side of the Seine as well as part of Champs Elysees, including the Grand Palais (with the interior altered) and Petit Palais. The foreign pavilions were placed on the riverside. Some considered them even finer than the pavilions of the stores of Paris and the French sections; others criticized them for having no sense of traditional national style.

The fair had been envisioned prior to World War I, to originally take place in 1914, but with Europe in turmoil, the postponement pushed the event back to 1925. It was seen by some as a way to push unity amongst nations; the lack of some major international participants, such as Germany, the United States, Canada, and others, challenged that assumption. For some, they may not have been onboard with the unity theme and were thus uninvited like Germany; other did not have the money after spending on war necessities.

Above photo. View of the fair from Les Invalides, 1925, Les Editions artistiques LIP : Paris and ses Merveilles - imprimeur: J. Cormault a Paris. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Below: Postcard of the Russian pavilion, 1925. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Russia Pavilion, Paris World's Fair 1925
The exposition had five main sections; dress, education, architecture, furniture, and the arts of theatre, road, and garden. Yes, it was very French. There were twelve entrances to the fair, including an imposing entre at the Porte de'Honneur that framed the Grand Palais. There were pavilions dedicated to tourism, the city of Paris, plus the department stores of Des Galeries Lafayette, Des Grands Magasins Bon Marche, Des Grands Magasins du Pintemps, and Des Grands Magasins du Louvre.

Did the exposition accomplish its goals? Well, it did extend the Art Deco style, no matter what you thought of it, into exposition and other architecture and decoration for decades. And yes, it did continue the French domination in style and decoration. Did it bring unity to the nations after World War I? No. Evidence of World War II was quite to that contrary. The fair drew sixteen million people to a special exposition on decorative arts from the official opening ceremony one day prior to opening day by French President Doumergue until its duration was done, proving that the French loved their fairs. They would host two more world's fairs prior to receding from the world stage in more ways than one; Paris 1931 focusing on their colonial vestiges, and Paris 1937, the fair that focused as much on the tensions in the world, as it did on any unity, with German and Soviet pavilions in stark competition prior to war.

Historian Perspective

Simon Dell - "The pride involved in such exhibitions is normally fairly high - but more so perhaps in this case as the event followed the First World War and because it involved the decorative arts - with which France was particularly identified by a number of countries. Some of this (press) coverage was favourable, some not, depending on the interests of the parties involved. And the particular problem is that this fair, unlike those preceding, was not universal, so was not subject to the same level of general attention. One could argue that this fair stands between the universal exhibitions and the more specialized international shows which began to become features of the period (i.e. Cannes, Venice Biennale). As a whole this fair represents a step away from globalising pretensions. (Theme) See above on the relevance to France - and consider also Paris as a centre for fashion and luxury trades. Precisely as the fair was focused, so it is difficult to assess its overall appeal. The delays caused by the First World War were of course considerable. More specifically, Germany declined to take part, which could be viewed as problematic as this country was the principal trade rival in luxury goods for France. However, this also assisted those who wished to present a triumphalist show. Paris was particularly suited to this type of exhibition - and as it was on a reduced scale it was still held in the very heart of the city. Relatively unstable (funding) base - particularly during the early planning stages. The project was not initially a state project."

Sixth Paris Expo

Paris Exposition 1925 Political Cartoon

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, Japan, Switzerland, Holland (Netherlands), Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria, Greece, Turkey, China, Luxembourg, Latvia, Finland, Yugoslavia, France and French possessions (Alsace, Northern Africa, Western Africa, Indochina, Morocco, Tunisia), Soviet Republic, Spain, Monaco, Sweden.

Germany and the United States did not take part. Germany was not invited due to its role in World War I.

Expo Tidbits
Eiffel Tower, in view but not within the site, had a Sky Sign, Lighted for the exhibition that had 200,000 electric lights and thirty-five miles of wire. There was a red flame on top. It was sponsored by M. Citroen as an advertisement for their cars.

Le Corbusier's Pavillon de L'Esprit Nouveau was popular, although it was disliked, because detractors thought its modern construction would ruin the city.

Total amount paid for admission 8 billion francs, L70 million. Fair averaged around 90,000 visitors daily.

There were 15,000 exhibitors.

Floating restaurants on the Seine River became very popular attractions. There was a large amusement section with merry-go-rounds, theaters, and miniature villages.

The legacy of the event is more in its effect on the Art Deco trend, and although some correctly state that Art Deco was a temporary fashion, it did influence design for much of the next thirty years.

Paris 1925 Map

Those in Charge

M. Fernand Davey, Commissioner-General. Charles Plumet, architect.

Sources: World's Fair Magazine; Fair News; London Times; New York Times; Ephemeral Vistas; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs by Alfred Heller; History of Fairs and Expositions; Worlds Fairs from 1851-1893; The Paris Exhibitions-Exposition Universelle de Paris, Internet site by A.P. Robertson; La Page Francophone des Expositions Universelles de Jacques Bertrand; Story of Exhibitions; Bureau of International Expositions;

Paris 1925 Belgium Pavilion

Photo column top: Main entrance to the exhibition on the Place de la Concorde, 1925, Les Editions artistiques LIP: Paris and ses Merveilles - imprimeur: J. Cormault a Paris. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Middle: Map of the 1925 Paris exhibition, 1925, likely Fair Authority. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Belgium Pavilion at the exposition, 1925. Courtesy Pinterest.

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