ART NOUVEAU (height 1890’s-1906
|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:
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
• 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
Although AN was interpreted in different ways in various countries,
certain elements were common
• Extravagant, sinuous ornament based on organic forms drawn from
• 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)
Floral Motifs: plant stems, tendrils, vines, branches, leaves, flowers
like roses, iris, Lilly, Lilly pads, sunflowers
Naturalistic forms of animals, butterflies, peacocks, reptiles, swans,
Ocean Waves, seaweed
Slender, dreamily poised women with long flowing hair (a take-off on
|Known by different names in various countries:
Jugendstil=Germany (young style)
|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.
• Ornamentation generally flat &
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
• Stained glass w/curved leading as well as leaded glass windows w/plain
or colored glass
• 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
|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
Paris Style: More refined, less ponderous, artists
with individualistic approach
Nancy Style: Heavily influenced by Rococo
Hector Guimard: Metro Stations, stylized plant
George de Feure: feminine, lighter style
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.
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)
Adolf Loos "ornament
is a crime" see Stiener house