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ART NOUVEAU (height 1890’s-1906 +-)

Vocabulary for this chapter  
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The Art Nouveau movement began in Belgium in early 1890’s around same time as the Arts & Crafts and Aesthetic movements. Art Nouveau blossomed all over Europe by 1900 and was highly demonstrated in the 1900 Paris Exhibition where cinematography was first introduced. (Note the relationship of motion films to the motion created by some art nouveau work in decoration and art prints).
Mood of the Day: Due to the Industrial Revolution, technology was gaining so much speed, the faster advances were made, the more people hung onto past styles in an attempt to surround themselves with something safe and familiar. In terms of the raising middle-class, that meant imitating past European styles. This is known as Historicism (a.k.a. Revivalism). Both the Aesthetics Movement and the Arts and Crafts Movement sought to improve public taste but each still relied on inspiration from past styles.
Theory Behind the Art Nouveau Movement: To create an entirely new style that would break the bonds of Historicism, a style that owed nothing to the styles of the past (Art for the Art Sake). But Art Nouveau was indirectly inspired by many past styles such as):
    Gothic= return to handcrafted, artistic inspirations
    Baroque=manipulation of line, plastic( malleable, molten forms), often excessive & out of scale
    Rococo=Asymmetrical ornamentation, continuous linear movement, no relation to classical forms
Chief Characteristics of AN
Reliance on the beauty of line, whether it’s the whiplash curve of the organic style showing motion and movement or the more static straight line the architectonic styles, the ornamental value of the line dominates all other considerations

• Extravagant, sinuous ornament based on organic forms drawn from nature.

• Stylistic unity of design (like A&C), all objects were designed to fit a concept, down to the last detail.

• Focus was to improve the forms and design of everyday objects by enhancing them with artistic ornamentation (like Aesthetic movement)

• Inspiration was also found in the highly linear and colorful art of Japan (mostly seen in the more architectonic styles)

Although AN was interpreted in different ways in various countries, certain elements were common
  • Floral Motifs: plant stems, tendrils, vines, branches, leaves, flowers like roses, iris, Lilly, Lilly pads, sunflowers
  • Naturalistic forms of animals, butterflies, peacocks, reptiles, swans, etc.
  • Ocean Waves, seaweed
  • Swirling smoke
  • Slender, dreamily poised women with long flowing hair (a take-off on the Pre-Raphaelites)
Known by different names in various countries:
  • Jugendstil=Germany (young style)
  • Style Liberty=Italy
  • Modernismo=Spain
Even though artists continued to work in the AN style until the outbreak of WWI in 1914, it was being rejected after the Turin Exhibition of 1902 when a new movement, (Modern Movement) was introduced by designers from Germany & Austria who focused on new shapes, simplicity of form and honest materials, not just decoration, to solve stylistic problems. This new ‘Modern Style" actually developed from the rectilinear, geometric, architectonic AN style of Scotland and Vienna which was more abstract than the curvy variety and lead to the Vienna Secessions & Wiener Werkstatte studios, leaders of the Modern movements.
AN Interiors: 
Ornamentation generally flat & 2-dimensional
  • Emphasis on vertical elements accentuated through division of walls using pilasters, moldings or panels of wallpaper or stencil-work
• Mostly white walls or the alternative of gray-green relieved w/salmon pink

• Frieze patterns of stylized nature or organic forms common

• Fitted carpets went out of fashion in favor of rugs over wood floor (stained, varnished or wax polish) or parquet

• Heavy draperies went out, now simpler window treatments w/flat pelmets/cornices

             • Stained glass w/curved leading as well as leaded glass windows w/plain or colored glass
The Art Nouveau style actually began in Belgium, (Brussels and Antwerp) which was the epicenter of AN in 1880’s. It got its influence from English A&C which began the battle of Industrial Age design in its cause to return to handcraftsmanship as the level of quality but AN takes things a step farther, total revolt against the "Enslavement to historical precedent and Academicism"
  • Henry Van de Veld (considered the creator and theoretical founder of AN), absorbed in the doctrines of Morris and Ruskin, prolific writer, renounced his painting career & turned to decorative arts as a designer in 1839 to combat the ugliness in the world. He left Belgium in 1899 and in 1901 become the director of Weimer School of Arts and Crafts. The school’s name was later changed to Bauhaus. The goal of this school was to bridge the gap between art and industry.
  • Victor Horta (see Hotel Salvay) leading architect in Belgium

Paris Style: More refined, less ponderous, artists with individualistic approach

  • Hector Guimard: Metro Stations, stylized plant motifs
  • Eugene Gaillard
  • George de Feure: feminine, lighter style
Nancy Style: Heavily influenced by Rococo
  • Emile Galle: naturalist, believed function of furniture should be expressed through decoration not construction, specialty was marquetry, used glass accents on pieces
  • Louis Majorelle: graceful but dynamic line, furniture affordable by middle class
  • Eugene Vallin: sculptural quality of floral motifs, later abstracted decorations
  • Antoni Gaudi: (see Sagrada Famila, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila) profoundly religious, inspired by medieval/gothic architecture, unorthodox, surreal forms.
Scotland: The Glasgow School architectonic style inspired by English Arts & Crafts 
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh et. al. ( see Hill House, Windy Hill House, Mrs. Cranston’s Tea Rooms)

  • Plan of the house evolved from the inside out. Liked to live with his clients for a few days before designing for them.
Austria: The Vienna Secession Style architectonic style inspired by Mackintosh 
  • Otto Wagner (see the Postal Savings Bank)
  • Josef Hoffmann
  • Joseph Olbrich
  • Adolf Loos "ornament is a crime" see Stiener house
  • Koloman Moser
Syllabus Neoclassical Victorian Modern Contact Marg