From mundane to magnificent

Times Staff Writer

Cartier jewelry, Chanel fashions and ... Electrolux vacuum cleaners?

Well, yes. These objects and scores more are part of the Art Deco 1910-1939 show that’s set to open Saturday at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, near 34th Avenue and Clement Street.

“You’ll see Art Deco ... incorporated into things that were affordable but yet gave a sense of style and elegance,” says Barbara Traisman, senior media relations officer for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, explaining why vacuums and Bakelite radios coexist in this exhibit with such treasures as a priceless four-poster bed of hammered silver that once belonged to a maharajah.

Art Deco may resonate with Southern Californians in particular because of the film industry.


“Hollywood was a fabulous promulgator of Art Deco,” Traisman says.

The cornerstone of the exhibit is the 11-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall entry foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel in London, which has been re-created in the Legion’s 1924 sculpture court. The foyer contains a mirrored revolving door and unusual lighting; it “makes you want to put on an evening gown and order martinis,” Traisman says of the 1930s interior, which was saved from destruction in the late ‘60s by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and was restored.

Visitors also will see paintings, textiles, glass, photographs, furniture and sculpture by such artists as photographer and set designer Cecil Beaton, jeweler Rene Lalique, designer Eileen Gray (known for her lacquerware) and graphic artist Gio Ponti.

The exhibit, which opened last year at the Victoria & Albert, will run through July 4 in San Francisco, then travel for a fall showing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Admission is $15 for adults; $13 for seniors 65 and older; $12 for 12- to 17-year-olds; $7 for children 5 to 11; and free for children younger than 5. Tickets are dated and timed for admittance every 30 minutes. (415) 863-3330,