is a style that swept France and eventually all of Europe from 1889 to 1900, it
was considered the most popular style at that time affecting more than just
visual art but also affecting interior design, architecture, households and jewellery,
making it a very flexible style. It was also a simplistic style that was
organic with twisting and ripple lines or floral effect, so everything was
flowing and elegant.
to Debra L Silverman who wrote in her book ‘art nouveau in fin-de-siècle France’
art nouveau had three goals, first to “disrupt the hierarchy of media and to
reunite art and craft” second to create a “distinctively modern style” and
third to “assert the primary of individual vision over the functions of materials”.
around 1889 started to get bored with the old naturalistic style, art had
suddenly become copy and paste, so everywhere artist where itching for
something new and bold. Art nouveau was the answer for a generation of people that
where fed up with the intellectual art of the past, it provided a chance to
feel instead of see. It had a connection with nature with the use of lines and
rhythm with the natural patterns and curves from floral and water patterns
stimulated creative interests, sometimes symbolically.
a matter of fact, Art Nouveau was extremely closely linked to Symbolism, it was
a movement in which artists tried to show truth using unrealistic or
fantastical objects. This could include religious icons or mythical creatures.
This glass sculpture is a hand which rises out of
a sea and is covered with seashells and algae. In fact, it’s called ‘Hand,
Surrounded by Algae and Shells’ by Emile Galle. As was often the case with Art
Nouveau pieces, this sculpture has symbolic meaning. The hand represents
mankind which is in harmony with nature. This is apparent by the way the waves
and algae and shells and hand are all made of complimentary materials and all
run together smoothly. The hand, however, is in danger of being overtaken by
the sea, the power of nature, just as people are in endangered by the power of
nature. While we are usually in control, there is always the possibility that a
hurricane or tidal wave or storm will take away that control.
many influences for Art Nouveau for instance, Alphonse Mucha. Mucha was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and a decorative artist. To many people, he is considered to be
the father of Art Nouveau. His bold posters reached incredible numbers of the
public. His style was emulated through the works of many aspiring illustrators,
despite his own hesitance to admit his artistic vision. His heavily ornamented
frames, loose, flowing lines entangled with floral decoration are seen in many
of the works of the time.
was created as an advertisement for the job cigarette company. The poster is
dominated with a beautiful woman with a lighted cigarette, the rising smoke
intertwining with her swirling hair and the job logo. The posters golden zig
zag border combined with the twirling smoke and the rich purple background
creates a luxurious and sensual mood. You can see the influences in art nouveau
by the whip lash look of the hair and curves of the smoke making the work very
flowing which is shown in most art Nouveau work.
influence in Art Nouveau was Japanese art, particularly wood-block prints, that
seized up many European artists such as, Gustav Klimt, Suzuki Harunobu, Emile
Galle and James Abbott McNeil Whistler in the 1880s and 90s. These wood-block
prints particularly contained floral and whiplash curves, the use of line,
forms, decorative pattern and colour, all these key elements inspired the same
elements in Art Nouveau.
design of woodblock prints did not come easy. While artists such as Suzuki
Harunobu and Ando Hiroshige earned enormous amounts of fame, it was not a one-man
process. Each individual print was created by the designer, the engraver, the
printer, and the publisher. The publisher usually created the print as a
bookseller, and determined the subject of the work. Designers had to rely on
their engravers and printers to bring their ideas to life in finished products
Nouveau print below is titled “The Tale of the Golden Cockerel” illustrated by
Ivan Bilibin”). You can see the strong influence of the Japanese ukiyo-e
movement in this print. The calligraphic line drawing, abstraction, and use of
colors and decorative patterns from Japanese woodblock prints are some of the
elements that can clearly be seen in this art.
While the influence of the Japanese ukiyo-e movement can be
seen in this print as well as many others, it was not only print art that the
Japanese influenced. Art Nouveau architecture, furniture, fashion, graphics,
and advertising were also influenced by this movement. In all forms of art, The
Japanese culture and art from this period inspired the decorative and iconic period
of Art Nouveau.
In Architecture, the Art Nouveau style particularly shows the
making of ornament and structure. This type of architecture was characterized
by a combination of materials such as glass, iron, ceramic and brickwork. The
architectural style was employed in the creation of interiors in which beams
and columns became thick vines with spreading tendrils, and the windows became
both openings that let air and light in. The buildings in the Art Nouveau style
have many of the following features: asymmetrical shapes, curved glass,
extensive use of arches and curved forms, mosaics, plant-like embellishments,
stained glass and Japanese motifs. A good example of this is the entrance to a Paris
subway station this was the work of an artist called Hector Guimard.
When Guimard was commissioned to design these subway
station entrances, Paris was only the second city in the world, after London,
to have constructed an underground railway. Guimard’s design answered the
desire to celebrate and promote this new infrastructure with a bold structure
that would be clearly visible on the Paris streetscape. The entrances use the
twisted, organic forms that are key elements of Art Nouveau. In effect, Guimard
had concealed an aspect of the object’s modernity beneath its flowing
continuity, a strategy that is symptomatic of Art Nouveau’s attitude to the
modern age. Guimard’s design was then helpful in bringing Art Nouveau’s complex,
designs to a mass audience for whom the style seemed like a symbol of luxury.
Spain, the Art Nouveau movement was centered in Barcelona. The architect Antoni
Gaudi, whose architectural style is so highly intimate, created the Casa
Batllo. The house was brought by Joseph Batllo in 1900 and had already been built
but then remodeled by Gaudi completely in the style of Art Nouveau, and is most
widely regarded as being the complete essence of Art Nouveau. Batlló commissioned Gaudi with free-reign in
terms of innovation and creativity to redesign the house.
Nouveau lasted only a century, it was a remarkable step in design and style. It
was a culmination of Europe’s bottled up creativity that caused a stream of
timeless, remarkable art and design. Although the origin of art nouveau is un
clear, it was born of social and artistic restlessness, and inspired by the
politics, technology and economy at that time. It was a way to break free from
the strict disciplines of academic art and express a different kind of organic
reality, one that is felt instead of observed. It was a groundbreaking movement,
and has helped shape design as we know it. As evidenced by architecture,
jewelry, sculpture, illustration, glassblowing, textiles, and furniture, Art
Nouveau was a breath of fresh air, and will be remembered as a new, avant-garde
approach to design.