Bordeaux is, like Paris, known around the world, though perhaps more for its fine wines rather than the city itself. It is in fact a UNESCO Heritage city full of ancient edifices and beautiful seventeenth century buildings, as well as a number of modernist marvels. Given that they are the focus it’s not surprising that Bordeaux’s quantity of Art Deco architecture has been largely ignored and overlooked. True, there is only a handful of really large buildings, but many areas of the city have wonderful examples of it.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 1: La Bourse du Travail
La Bourse du Travail is a trade labour building, local home of France’s CGT union. It was constructed 1935-36, but not inaugurated until 1938. Designed by Bordeaux’s chief architect of the time, Jacques D’Welles, it also had some important French artists, Jean Dupas and Alfred Janniot, involved with the decorative scheme.
Sculptor Alfred Janniot created the allegorical bas-relief stone carving for the façade. This large bas-relief depicts activities which contributed to the city’s wealth and good fortune, notably grape growing and wine making. There is a clear connection between it and the even larger relief Janniot made for the Palais du Tokyo in Paris at around the same time.
French Art Deco painter, artist, designer, poster artist, and decorator Jean Théodore Dupas was born in Bordeaux. He won the prix de Rome in 1910. Among his contributions to the Bourse du Travail were some large frescos, one in the Ambroise Croizat amphitheatre of an allegory of Bordeaux which mixed ancient myths antique and modern symbols.
Along the main façade, facing onto the busy Cours Aristide Briand are steel entry doors with the names of trades such as: mecaniciens, chauffeurs, forgerons, ferronniers, ajusteurs and tourneurs etc. The Bourse du Travail became listed as a historic monument 25 June, 1998.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 2: Maison des Etudiantes.
This is a student residence, or Maison Des Etudiantes, and is located at 50 Rue Ligier at the corner of the Cours de la Libération. The architect was Robert Touzin and it was constructed by J Pincon and Sons in 1932. This is a five-storey residential building with an excellent decorative programme, from the stylish wrought iron balconies to the three large, stone reliefs of women’s heads interspersed at the top of the building. These heads are all inset into octagonal frames and there are octagonal windows on the ground floor. Also at the top of the building, at the centre of the corner elevation, there is carved: Maison Des Etudiantes.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 3: Extension to Hospital Saint-Andre
Located on Rue Jean Burguet and curving around the corner to Rue Henri IV, this extension was completed in 1931. The allegorical sculpture at the top of the curve was created by the sculptor P Hazera. The Saint-Andre Hospital is a teaching hospital in Bordeaux’s city centre, and is part of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Bordeaux. It is associated with the the Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux II.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 4: Centre Medical Saint Gênes
A modest local clinic the Centre Medical Saint Gênes is nonetheless in a former dwelling from the Art Deco period. In addition to the irregular hexagons framing the entrance, window and garage entrance of the lower floor there is the row of floral triangles just below the roofline.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 5: Galerie Des Beaux-Arts
At a glance, particularly across the distance afforded by the square, Bordeaux’s Galerie Des Beaux-Arts looks more like a seventeenth century building than one belonging to the twentieth, more Renaissance than Art Deco. Sitting across from the Place du Colonel Raynal it may look like it has been there for centuries but it was in fact constructed in 1938, despite the heraldry, rustication on its corners and other pure Classical details.
Look a little closer and take in the contributions of Bordeaux-born sculptor Charles-Louis Malric and the picture changes. First, the allegorical figures of painting and sculpture set in round frames mid right and mid left of the façade follow a pattern used on Art Deco buildings in many other places. Next, the small, bronze, allegorical figures that adorn the wrought iron gates, while classically inspired, are pure Art Deco. We have seen similar before on the gates of the Palais du Tokyo in Paris.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 6& 7: Ecoles des Filles & Garçons
On either side of the Galerie Des Beaux-Arts are what were once a corresponding, and nearly identical pair: Ecole des Filles & Ecole des Garçons, a Girl’s School and a Boy’s School. The girl’s building is still a school, however, it is now used for kindergarten and primary classes. Both buildings were designed using traditional French forms of architecture, however not only the wrought iron grate, but the use of modern, sans serif typeface for the stone carving of the names of the schools show them as Art Deco.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 8: House, 88 Cours Aristide Briant
A four-storey house in central Bordeaux with some fine wrought iron. Above the entry gate is a carved setting for the house number in between some flowers. There are other carved groups of flowers on the floors above.
Bordeaux Art Deco Building 9: House, 68 Rue Brizard
There is something anomalous about the Art Deco relief on the second floor of this house. While its flower arrangements set in octagons and the fluting that accompanies them show excellent composition and execution, the design is cut off at the limit of the right hand side.
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