The antithesis of minimalism, and a reaction to the mid-century movement, maximalism is a lush style that is all about layering—from layers of collected objects, multiple patterns in contrasting colors, graphics or scale, to incorporating an array of decoration. It can be seen as “eclectic” or even “eccentric,” but it is always a state of curated excess.
It should not be a mass of chaotic clutter that screams, “I follow a maximalist style!” or showcases items that have eluded the dust bin for the last 20 years either. It is an art.
Maximalism was coined in the 1970s by art historian Robert Pincus-Witten to describe a group of artists, including Julian Schnabel and David Salle, to express getting out of the long period of minimalism in art and design. This style celebrated richness and excess in graphic design and opened the door to extremes in personal expression in other artistic disciplines.
One of the more famous artist-designers to embody this style in his work is Tony Duquette.
He worked in the film industry in the 1940s creating costumes, jewelry, and interiors for MGM and many of the day’s prominent producers and directors before serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. After the war, he was the first American artist to have a one-man show at the Louvre. His approach to using his personally collected but dissimilar furnishings, fabrics and accessories from his decades of European travel, was his visual trademark. I admire his work and his ability to pull together items that would seem incompatible, into stunning and well-edited rooms.
Mr. Duquette was 85 years old when he passed away in Los Angeles in 1999. Per his wishes, the Tony Duquette Studios, Inc., continues under the direction of his business partner, Hutton Wilkinson.