Lunchtime Tourist

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February 16, 2004 // UPDATED 2:57 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Art Deco exhibit, Wells Fargo showcases, 601 2nd Ave. S.

Years before it was called Wells Fargo, Minneapolis' own Northwestern National Banks thrived in a stunning building Downtown. After it burned to the ground on a wintry Thanksgiving Day in 1982, Cesar Pelli was hired to design the new headquarters. Today, the Wells Fargo building stands out on our skyline as an architectural gem. And there are more gems inside.

Head over to the first and second-floor exhibit cases that showcase a rotating exhibit of 20th-century decorative and applied arts.

Titled "The French Aesthetic," the current exhibit shows vases, fireplace screens, coffee and tea services, and other French household objects of the Art Deco period (roughly the '20s and '30s).

The 25 exhibited objects pay homage to their curator's, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, legendary 1971 exhibit that featured nearly 1,500 European and American Art Deco objects.

That exhibit was co-organized by London critic Bevis Hillier; he defined Art Deco as "an assertively modern style" that favored machine aesthetics, new materials and fine craftsmanship. Although the term has become a regular part of our style vocabulary, it wasn't formally used until the '60s, a derivation of the the title of the 1925 "Exposition Internationale des Arts D/coratif et Industriels Modernes" in Paris.

Gazing into the upstairs cases, you can see the reflection of the lobby's six Art Deco chandeliers -- those, along with the backlit bronze grilles of the same time, were saved from the burned building and reincorporated into this one.

Don't forget to pick up a brochure on the exhibit that shows several of the pieces but, more importantly, gives definitions and keys to pronunciation for several French words you can brandish about in one of your next meetings.

LUNCH TIP: To be surrounded by a stunning Art Deco environment, have lunch at Goodfellow's in City Center, 40 S. 7th St.

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