From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Experiment[ation] in new decorative motifs, produced the short-lived art nouveau, whose freely invented curvilinear ornament, derived from plant forms, tended to mask the basic structure." --Gardner's Art Through the Ages (1926) by Helen Gardner
"The erotic nature of many Art Nouveau works is one of the most prevalent features of the style. Nowhere is it more abundantly seen than in small-scale sculptural or decorative arts objects such as ink-wells, carafes, centrepieces, candelabra, lamps and figurines -- the kind of objects that were disseminated widely and could be brought into any middle-class household. The eroticism of these objects is made all the more complex by their utility and domesticity. They often demand physical engagement: furniture or carafes where the handles are naked women that must be grasped; vessels that metamorphosize into women inviting touch; lamps that provocatively pose women in suggestive positions. These erotically charged objects, unlike most sculpture, demand contact." --Art Nouveau and the Erotic (2000) by Ghislaine Wood
"Among the more popular names are Palingstijl (paling = Flemish for eel), the name it quickly acquired in Belgium, as well as Style nouille (spaghetti style) , which was the sobriquet given it by Paul Morand."--Art Nouveau (1967) by Stephan Tschudi-Madsen
Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture, and applied art, especially the decorative arts. The style is known by different names in different languages: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme in Catalan, and also known as the Modern Style in English. It was popular between 1890 and 1910 during the Belle Époque period, and was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers.
Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or whiplash lines, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces.
One major objective of Art Nouveau was to break down the traditional distinction between fine arts (especially painting and sculpture) and applied arts. It was most widely used in interior design, graphic arts, furniture, glass art, textiles, ceramics, jewellery and metal work. The style responded to leading 19-century theoreticians, such as French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814–1879) and British art critic John Ruskin (1819–1900). In Britain, it was influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. German architects and designers sought a spiritually uplifting Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art") that would unify the architecture, furnishings, and art in the interior in a common style, to uplift and inspire the residents.
The first Art Nouveau houses and interior decoration appeared in Brussels in the 1890s, in the architecture and interior design of houses designed by Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, and especially Victor Horta, whose Hôtel Tassel was completed in 1893. It moved quickly to Paris, where it was adapted by Hector Guimard, who saw Horta's work in Brussels and applied the style for the entrances of the new Paris Métro. It reached its peak at the 1900 Paris International Exposition, which introduced the Art Nouveau work of artists such as Louis Tiffany. It appeared in graphic arts in the posters of Alphonse Mucha, and the glassware of René Lalique and Émile Gallé.
From Belgium and France, Art Nouveau spread to the rest of Europe, taking on different names and characteristics in each country (see Naming section below). It often appeared not only in capitals, but also in rapidly growing cities that wanted to establish artistic identities (Turin and Palermo in Italy; Glasgow in Scotland; Munich and Darmstadt in Germany), as well as in centres of independence movements (Helsinki in Finland, then part of the Russian Empire; Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain).
By 1914, and with the beginning of the First World War, Art Nouveau was largely exhausted. In the 1920s, it was replaced as the dominant architectural and decorative art style by Art Deco and then Modernism. The Art Nouveau style began to receive more positive attention from critics in the late 1960s, with a major exhibition of the work of Hector Guimard at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970.
The term Art Nouveau was first used in the 1880s in the Belgian journal L'Art Moderne to describe the work of Les Vingt, twenty painters and sculptors seeking reform through art. The name was popularized by the Maison de l'Art Nouveau ("House of the New Art"), an art gallery opened in Paris in 1895 by the Franco-German art dealer Siegfried Bing. In Britain, the French term Art Nouveau was commonly used, while in France, it was often called by the term Style moderne (akin to the British term Modern Style), or Style 1900. In France, it was also sometimes called Style Jules Verne (after the novelist Jules Verne), Style Métro (after Hector Guimard's iron and glass subway entrances), Art Belle Époque, or Art fin de siècle.
Art Nouveau is related to, but not identical with, styles that emerged in many countries in Europe at about the same time. Their local names were often used in their respective countries to describe the whole movement.
- In Belgium, it was sometimes termed Style coup de fouet ("Whiplash style"), Paling Stijl ("Eel style"), or Style nouille ("Noodle style") by its detractors.
- In Britain, besides Art Nouveau, it was known as the Modern Style, or, because of works of Glasgow School, as the Glasgow style.
- The term Modern is also used in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, and Modernas in Lithuania.
- In Germany and Scandinavia, it was called Reformstil ("Reform style"), or Jugendstil ("Youth style"), after the popular German art magazine of that name, as well as Wellenstil ("Wave style"), or Lilienstil ("Lily style"). It is now called Jugend in Finland, Sweden and Norway, Juugend in Estonia, and Jūgendstils in Latvia.
- In Denmark, it is known as Skønvirke ("Work of beauty").
- In Austria and the neighbouring countries then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Wiener Jugendstil, or Secessionsstil ("Secession style"), after the artists of the Vienna Secession (szecesszió, secese, secesia, secesja).
- In Italy, it was often called Liberty style, after Arthur Lasenby Liberty, the founder of London's Liberty & Co, whose textile designs were popular. It was also sometimes called Stile floreale ("Floral style"), or Arte nuova ("New Art").
- In the United States, due to its association with Louis Comfort Tiffany, it was sometimes called the "Tiffany style".
- In the Netherlands, it was called Nieuwe Kunst ("New Art"), or Nieuwe Stijl ("New style").
- In Portugal, Arte nova.
- In Spain, Modernismo, Modernisme (in Catalan) and Arte joven ("Young Art").
- In Switzerland, Style Sapin ("Fir tree style").
- In Finland, Kalevala Style.
- In Russia, Модерн ("Modern") or, for painting, Мир Искусства (Mir Iskusstva, "World of Art").
- In Japan, Shiro-Uma.
- In Romania, Arta 1900 ("1900 Art"), Arta Nouă ("New Art") or Noul Stil ("New Style").
Early Art Nouveau, particularly in Belgium and France, was characterized by undulating, curving forms inspired by lilies, vines, flower stems and other natural forms, used in particular in the interiors of Victor Horta and the decoration of Louis Majorelle and Émile Gallé. It also drew upon patterns based on butterflies and dragonflies, borrowed from Japanese art, which were popular in Europe at the time.
Early Art Nouveau also often featured more stylized forms expressing movement, such as the coup de fouet or "whiplash" line, depicted in the cyclamen plants drawn by designer Hermann Obrist in 1894. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist's wall hanging Cyclamen (1894), compared it to the "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip," The term "whiplash", though it was originally used to ridicule the style, is frequently applied to the characteristic curves employed by Art Nouveau artists. Such decorative undulating and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm and asymmetrical shape, are often found in the architecture, painting, sculpture, and other forms of Art Nouveau design.
Other floral forms were popular, inspired by lilies, wisteria and other flowers, particularly in the lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the glass objects made by the artists of the School of Nancy and Émile Gallé. Other curving and undulating forms borrowed from nature included butterflies, peacocks, swans, and water lilies. Many designs depicted women's hair intertwined with stems of lilies, irises and other flowers. Stylized floral forms were particularly used by Victor Horta in carpets, balustrades, windows, and furniture. They were also used extensively by Hector Guimard for balustrades, and, most famously, for the lamps and railings at the entrances of the Paris Metro. Guimard explained: "That which must be avoided in everything that is continuous is the parallel and symmetry. Nature is the greatest builder and nature makes nothing that is parallel and nothing that is symmetrical."
Earlier Art Nouveau furniture, such as that made by Louis Majorelle and Henry van de Velde, was characterized by the use of exotic and expensive materials, including mahogany with inlays of precious woods and trim, and curving forms without right angles. It gave a sensation of lightness.
In the second phase of Art Nouveau, following 1900, the decoration became purer and the lines were more stylized. The curving lines and forms evolved into polygons and then into cubes and other geometric forms. These geometric forms were used with particular effect in the architecture and furniture of Joseph Maria Olbrich, Otto Wagner, Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann, especially the Stoclet Palace in Brussels, which announced the arrival of Art Deco and modernism.
Another characteristic of Art Nouveau architecture was the use of light, by opening up of interior spaces, by the removal of walls, and the extensive use of skylights to bring a maximum amount of light into the interior. Victor Horta's residence-studio and other houses built by him had extensive skylights, supported on curving iron frames. In the Hotel Tassel he removed the traditional walls around the stairway, so that the stairs became a central element of the interior design.
Relationship with contemporary styles and movements
As an art style, Art Nouveau has affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolist styles, and artists like Aubrey Beardsley, Alphonse Mucha, Edward Burne-Jones, Gustav Klimt and Jan Toorop could be classed in more than one of these styles. Unlike Symbolist painting, however, Art Nouveau has a distinctive appearance; and, unlike the artisan-oriented Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau artists readily used new materials, machined surfaces, and abstraction in the service of pure design.
Art Nouveau did not eschew the use of machines, as the Arts and Crafts movement did. For sculpture, the principal materials employed were glass and wrought iron, resulting in sculptural qualities even in architecture. Ceramics were also employed in creating editions of sculptures by artists such as Auguste Rodin. though his sculpture is not considered Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau architecture made use of many technological innovations of the late 19th century, especially the use of exposed iron and large, irregularly shaped pieces of glass for architecture.
Art Nouveau tendencies were also absorbed into local styles. In Denmark, for example, it was one aspect of Skønvirke ("aesthetic work"), which itself more closely relates to the Arts and Crafts style. Likewise, artists adopted many of the floral and organic motifs of Art Nouveau into the Młoda Polska ("Young Poland") style in Poland. Młoda Polska, however, was also inclusive of other artistic styles and encompassed a broader approach to art, literature, and lifestyle.
Architecturally, Art Nouveau has affinities with styles that, although modern, exist outside the modernist tradition established by architects like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. It is particularly closely related to Expressionist architecture, which shares its preference for organic shapes, but grew out of an intellectual dissatisfaction with Art Nouveau's approach to ornamentation. As opposed to Art Nouveau's focus on plants and vegetal motifs, Expressionism takes inspiration from things like caves, mountains, lightning, crystal, and rock formations. Another style conceived as a reaction to Art Nouveau was Art Deco, which rejected organic surfaces altogether in preference for a rectilinear style derived from the contemporary artistic avant-garde.
Art Nouveau is represented in painting and sculpture, but it is most prominent in architecture and the decorative arts. It was well-suited to the graphic arts, especially the poster, interior design, metal and glass art, jewellery, furniture design, ceramics and textiles.
Posters and graphic art
The graphic arts flourished in the Art Nouveau period, thanks to new technologies of printing, particularly colour lithography, which allowed the mass production of colour posters. Art was no longer confined to galleries, museums and salons; it could be found on Paris walls, and in illustrated art magazines, which circulated throughout Europe and to the United States. The most popular theme of Art Nouveau posters was women; women symbolizing glamour, modernity and beauty, often surrounded by flowers.
In Britain, the leading graphic artist in the Art Nouveau style was Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898). He began with engraved book illustrations for Le Morte d'Arthur, then black and white illustrations for Salome by Oscar Wilde (1893), which brought him fame. In the same year, he began engraving illustrations and posters for the art magazine The Studio, which helped publicize European artists such as Fernand Khnopff in Britain. The curving lines and intricate floral patterns attracted as much attention as the text.
The Swiss-French artist Eugène Grasset (1845–1917) was one of the first creators of French Art Nouveau posters. He helped decorate the famous cabaret Le Chat noir in 1885 and made his first posters for the Fêtes de Paris. He made a celebrated poster of Sarah Bernhardt in 1890, and a wide variety of book illustrations. The artist-designers Jules Chéret, Georges de Feure and the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec all made posters for Paris theaters, cafés, dance halls cabarets. The Czech artist Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939) arrived in Paris in 1888, and in 1895 made a poster for actress Sarah Bernhardt in the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou. The success of this poster led to a contract to produce posters for six more plays by Bernhardt. Over the next four years, he also designed sets, costumes, and even jewellery for the actress.
style2000.com.</ref> Based on the success of his theater posters, Mucha made posters for a variety of products, ranging from cigarettes and soap to beer biscuits, all featuring an idealized female figure with an hourglass figure. He went on to design products, from jewellery to biscuit boxes, in his distinctive style.
In Vienna, the most prolific designer of graphics and posters was Koloman Moser (1868–1918), who actively participated in the Secession movement with Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann, and made illustrations and covers for the magazine of the movement, Ver Sacrum, as well as paintings, furniture and decoration.
Painting was another domain of Art Nouveau, though most painters associated with Art Nouveau are primarily described as members of other movements, particularly post-impressionism and symbolism. Alphonse Mucha was famous for his Art Nouveau posters, which frustrated him. According to his son and biographer, Jiří Mucha, he did not think much of Art Nouveau. "What is it, Art Nouveau? he asked. "...Art can never be new." He took the greatest pride in his work as a history painter. His one Art-Nouveau inspired painting, "Slava", is a portrait of the daughter of his patron in Slavic costume, which was modelled after his theatrical posters.
The painters most closely associated with Art Nouveau were Les Nabis, post-impressionist artists who were active in Paris from 1888 until 1900. One of their stated goals was to break down the barrier between the fine arts and the decorative arts. They painted not only canvases, but also decorative screens and panels. Many of their works were influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese prints. The members included Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Édouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Félix Vallotton, and Paul Sérusier.
In Belgium, Fernand Khnopff worked in both painting and graphic design. Wall murals by Gustav Klimt were integrated into decorative scheme of Josef Hoffmann for the Stoclet Palace (1905–1911). The Klimt mural for the dining room at the Stoclet Palace is considered a masterpiece of late Art Nouveau.
One subject did appear both in traditional painting and Art Nouveau; the American dancer Loie Fuller, was portrayed by French and Austrian painters and poster artists.
One particular style that became popular in the Art Nouveau period, especially in Brussels, was sgraffito, a technique invented in the Renaissance of applying layers of tinted plaster to make murals on the facades of houses. This was used in particular by Belgian architect Paul Hankar for the houses he built for two artist friends, Paul Cauchie and Albert Ciamberlani.
Glass art was a medium in which Art Nouveau found new and varied ways of expression. Intense amount of experimentation went on, particularly in France, to find new effects of transparency and opacity: in engraving win cameo, double layers, and acid engraving, a technique that permitted production in series. The city of Nancy became an important centre for the French glass industry, and the workshops of Émile Gallé and the Daum studio, led by Auguste and Antonin Daum, were located there. They worked with many notable designers, including Ernest Bussière, Henri Bergé, and Amalric Walter. They developed a new method of incrusting glass by pressing fragments of different coloured glass into the unfinished piece. They often collaborated with the furniture designer Louis Majorelle, whose home and workshops were in Nancy. Another feature of Art Nouveau was the use of stained glass windows with that style of floral themes in residential salons, particularly in the Art Nouveau houses in Nancy. Many were the work of Jacques Grüber, who made windows for the Villa Majorelle and other houses.
In Belgium, the leading firm was the glass factory of Val Saint Lambert, which created vases in organic and floral forms, many of them designed by Philippe Wolfers. Wolfers was noted particularly for creating works of symbolist glass, often with metal decoration attached. In Bohemia, then a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire noted for crystal manufacture, the companies J. & L. Lobmeyr and Joh. Loetz Witwe also experimented with new colouring techniques, producing more vivid and richer colours. In Germany, experimentation was led by Karl Köpping, who used blown glass to create extremely delicate glasses in the form of flowers; so delicate that few survive today.
In Vienna, the glass designs of the Secession movement were much more geometrical than those of France or Belgium; Otto Prutscher was the most rigorous glass designer of the movement. In Britain, a number of floral stained glass designs were created by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh for the architectural display called "The House of an Art Lover".
In the United States, Louis Comfort Tiffany and his designers became particularly famous for their lamps, whose glass shades used common floral themes intricately pieced together. Tiffany lamps gained popularity after the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, where Tiffany displayed his lamps in a Byzantine-like chapel. Tiffany experimented extensively with the processes of colouring glass, patenting in 1894 the process Favrile glass, which used metallic oxides to colour the interior of the molten glass, giving it an iridescent effect. His workshops produced several different series of the Tiffany lamp in different floral designs, along with stained glass windows, screens, vases and a range of decorative objects. His works were first imported to Germany, then to France by Siegfried Bing, and then became one of the decorative sensations of the 1900 Exposition. An American rival to Tiffany, Steuben Glass, was founded in 1903 in Corning, NY, by Frederick Carder, who, like Tiffany, used the Fevrile process to create surfaces with iridescent colours. Another notable American glass artist was John La Farge, who created intricate and colourful stained glass windows on both religious and purely decorative themes.
Examples of stained glass windows in churches can be found in the Art Nouveau religious buildings article.
The 19th-century architectural theorist Viollet-le-Duc had advocated showing, rather than concealing the iron frameworks of modern buildings, but Art Nouveau architects Victor Horta and Hector Guimard went a step further: they added iron decoration in curves inspired by floral and vegetal forms both in the interiors and exteriors of their buildings. They took the form of stairway railings in the interior, light fixtures, and other details in the interior, and balconies and other ornaments on the exterior. These became some of the most distinctive features of Art Nouveau architecture. The use of metal decoration in vegetal forms soon also appeared in silverware, lamps, and other decorative items.
In the United States, the designer George Grant Elmslie made extremely intricate cast iron designs for the balustrades and other interior decoration of the buildings of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.
While French and American designers used floral and vegetal forms, Joseph Maria Olbrich and the other Secession artists designed teapots and other metal objects in a more geometric and sober style.
Art Nouveau jewellery's characteristics include subtle curves and lines. Its design often features natural objects including flowers, animals or birds. The female body is also popular often appearing on cameos. It frequently included long necklaces made of pearls or sterling-silver chains punctuated by glass beads or ending in a silver or gold pendant, itself often designed as an ornament to hold a single, faceted jewel of amethyst, peridot, or citrine.
The Art Nouveau period brought a notable stylistic revolution to the jewellery industry, led largely by the major firms in Paris. For the previous two centuries, the emphasis in fine jewellery had been creating dramatic settings for diamonds. During the reign of Art Nouveau, diamonds usually played a supporting role. Jewellers experimented with a wide variety of other stones, including agate, garnet, opal, moonstone, aquamarine and other semi-precious stones, and with a wide variety of new techniques, among others enamelling, and new materials, including horn, moulded glass, and ivory.
Early notable Paris jewellers in the Art Nouveau style included Louis Aucoc, whose family jewellery firm dated to 1821. The most famous designer of the Art Nouveau period, René Lalique, served his apprenticeship in the Aucoc studio from 1874 to 1876. Lalique became a central figure of Art Nouveau jewellery and glass, using nature, from dragonflies to grasses, as his models. Artists from outside of the traditional world of jewellery, such as Paul Follot, best known as a furniture designer, experimented with jewellery designs. Other notable French Art Nouveau jewellery designers included Jules Brateau and Georges Henry. In the United States, the most famous designer was Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose work was shown at the shop of Siegfried Bing and also at the 1900 Paris Exposition.
In Britain, the most prominent figure was the Liberty & Co. & Cymric designer Archibald Knox, who made a variety of Art Nouveau pieces, including silver belt buckles. C. R. Ashbee designed pendants in the shapes of peacocks. The versatile Glasgow designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh also made jewellery, using traditional Celtic symbols. In Germany, the centre for Jugendstil jewellery was the city of Pforzheim, where most of the German firms, including Theodor Fahrner, were located. They quickly produced works to meet the demand for the new style.
Architecture and ornamentation
Art Nouveau architecture was a reaction against the eclectic styles that dominated European architecture in the second half of the 19th century. It was expressed through decoration: either ornamental (based on flowers and plants, e.g. thistles, cyclamens, orchids, water lilies etc.) or sculptural (see the respective section below). While faces of people (or mascarons) are referred to ornament, the use of people in different forms of sculpture (statues and reliefs: see the respective section below) was also common in some forms of Art Nouveau. Before Vienna Secession, Jugendstil and the various forms of the National romantic style façades were asymmetrical, and often decorated with polychrome ceramic tiles. The decoration usually suggested movement; there was no distinction between the structure and the ornament. A curling or "whiplash" motif, based on the forms of plants and flowers, was widely used in the early Art Nouveau, but decoration became more abstract and symmetrical in Vienna Secession and other later versions of the style, as in the Stoclet Palace in Brussels (1905–1911).
The style first appeared in Brussels' Hankar House by Paul Hankar (1893) and Hôtel Tassel (1892–93) of Victor Horta. The Hôtel Tassel was visited by Hector Guimard, who used the same style in his first major work, the Castel Béranger (1897–98). Horta and Guimard also designed the furniture and the interior decoration, down to the doorknobs and carpeting. In 1899, based on the fame of the Castel Béranger, Guimard received a commission to design the entrances of the stations of the new Paris Métro, which opened in 1900. Though few of the originals survived, these became the symbol of the Art Nouveau movement in Paris.
In Paris, the architectural style was also a reaction to the strict regulations imposed on building facades by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, the prefect of Paris under Napoleon III. Bow windows were finally allowed in 1903, and Art Nouveau architects went to the opposite extreme, most notably in the houses of Jules Lavirotte, which were essentially large works of sculpture, completely covered with decoration. An important neighbourhood of Art Nouveau houses appeared in the French city of Nancy, around the Villa Majorelle (1901–02), the residence of the furniture designer Louis Majorelle. It was designed by Henri Sauvage as a showcase for Majorelle's furniture designs.
Many Art Nouveau buildings were included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list as a part of their city centres (in Bern, Budapest, Lviv, Paris, Porto, Prague, Riga, Saint Petersburg, Strasbourg (Neustadt), Vienna). Along with them, there were buildings that were included in the list as separate objects:
- the works of Victor Horta (Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde, Maison and Atelier Horta) and the Stoclet Palace by Josef Hoffmann in Brussels;
- the works of Lluís Domènech i Montaner (Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona), and the works of Antoni Gaudí (Park Güell, Palau Güell, Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, Casa Milá, Casa Vicens in Barcelona; Colònia Güell in Santa Coloma de Cervelló).
In Art Nouveau architecture, hyperbolas and parabolas in windows, arches, and doors are common, and decorative mouldings 'grow' into plant-derived forms. Like most design styles, Art Nouveau sought to harmonise its forms. The text above the Paris Metro entrance uses the qualities of the rest of the iron work in the structure.
Art Nouveau in architecture and interior design eschewed the eclectic revival styles of the 19th century. Though Art Nouveau designers selected and 'modernised' some of the more abstract elements of Rococo style, such as flame and shell textures, they also advocated the use of very stylised organic forms as a source of inspiration, expanding the 'natural' repertoire to use seaweed, grasses, and insects.
Sculpture was another form of expression for Art Nouveau artists, crossing with ceramics sometimes. The porcelain figurine Dancer with a Scarf by Agathon Léonard won recognition both in ceramics and in sculpture at the Paris Exposition in 1900. Sculptors of other countries also created ceramic sculptures: Bohemian Stanislav Sucharda and Ladislav Šaloun, Belgian Charles Van der Stappen and Catalan Lambert Escaler, who created statues of polychrome terracotta. Another notable sculptor of that time was Agustí Querol Subirats from Catalonia who created statues in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba.
In architectural sculpture not only statues but also reliefs were used. Art Nouveau architects and sculptors found inspiration in animal motifs (butterflies, peacocks, swans, owls, bats, dragons, bears). Atlantes, caryatids, putti, and gargoyles were also used.
Furniture design in the Art Nouveau period was closely associated with the architecture of the buildings; the architects often designed the furniture, carpets, light fixtures, doorknobs, and other decorative details. The furniture was often complex and expensive; a fine finish, usually polished or varnished, was regarded as essential, and continental designs were usually very complex, with curving shapes that were expensive to make. It also had the drawback that the owner of the home could not change the furniture or add pieces in a different style without disrupting the entire effect of the room. For this reason, when Art Nouveau architecture went out of style, the style of furniture also largely disappeared.
In France, the centre for furniture design and manufacture was in Nancy, where two major designers, Émile Gallé and Louis Majorelle had their studios and workshops, and where the Alliance des industries d'art (later called the School of Nancy) had been founded in 1901. Both designers based on their structure and ornamentation on forms taken from nature, including flowers and insects, such as the dragonfly, a popular motif in Art Nouveau design. Gallé was particularly known for his use of marquetry in relief, in the form of landscapes or poetic themes. Majorelle was known for his use of exotic and expensive woods, and for attaching bronze sculpted in vegetal themes to his pieces of furniture. Both designers used machines for the first phases of manufacture, but all the pieces were finished by hand. Other notable furniture designers of the Nancy School included Eugène Vallin and Émile André; both were architects by training, and both designed furniture that resembled the furniture from Belgian designers such as Horta and Van de Velde, which had less decoration and followed more closely the curving plants and flowers. Other notable French designers included Henri Bellery-Desfontaines, who took his inspiration from the neo-Gothic styles of Viollet-le-Duc; and Georges de Feure, Eugène Gaillard, and Édouard Colonna, who worked together with art dealer Siegfried Bing to revitalize the French furniture industry with new themes. Their work was known for "abstract naturalism", its unity of straight and curved lines, and its rococo influence. The furniture of de Feure at the Bing pavilion won a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition. The most unusual and picturesque French designer was François-Rupert Carabin, a sculptor by training, whose furniture featured sculpted nude female forms and symbolic animals, particularly cats, who combined Art Nouveau elements with Symbolism. Other influential Paris furniture designers were Charles Plumet, and Alexandre Charpentier. In many ways the old vocabulary and techniques of classic French 18th-century Rococo furniture were re-interpreted in a new style.
In Belgium, the pioneer architects of the Art Nouveau movement, Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde, designed furniture for their houses, using vigorous curving lines and a minimum of decoration. The Belgian designer Gustave Serrurier-Bovy added more decoration, applying brass strips in curving forms. In the Netherlands, where the style was called Nieuwe Kunst or New Art, H. P. Berlag, Lion Cachet and Theodor Nieuwenhuis followed a different course, that of the English Arts and Crafts movement, with more geometric rational forms.
In Britain, the furniture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was purely Arts and Crafts, austere and geometrical, with long straight lines and right angles and a minimum of decoration. Continental designs were much more elaborate, often using curved shapes both in the basic shapes of the piece, and in applied decorative motifs. In Germany, the furniture of Peter Behrens and the Jugendstil was largely rationalist, with geometric straight lines and some decoration attached to the surface. Their goal was exactly the opposite of French Art Nouveau; simplicity of structure and simplicity of materials, for furniture that could be inexpensive and easily mass-manufactured. The same was true for the furniture of designers of the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, led by Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Josef Maria Olbrich and Koloman Moser. The furniture was geometric and had a minimum of decoration, though in style it often followed national historic precedent, particularly the Biedermeier style.
Italian and Spanish furniture design went off in their own direction. Carlo Bugatti in Italy designed the extraordinary Snail Chair, wood covered with painted parchment and copper, for the Turin International Exposition of 1902. In Spain, following the lead of Antoni Gaudí and the Modernismo movement, the furniture designer Gaspar Homar designed works that were inspired by natural forms with touches of Catalan historic styles.
In the United States, furniture design was more often inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, or by historic American models, than by the Art Nouveau. One designer who did introduce Art Nouveau themes was Charles Rohlfs in Buffalo, New York, whose designs for American white oak furniture were influenced by motifs of Celtic Art and Gothic art, with touches of Art Nouveau in the metal trim applied to the pieces.
Ceramic art, including faience, was another flourishing domain for Art Nouveau artists, in the English-speaking countries falling under the wider art pottery movement. The last part of the 19th century saw many technological innovations in the manufacture of ceramics, particularly the development of high temperature (grand feu) ceramics with crystallised and matte glazes. At the same time, several lost techniques, such as sang de boeuf glaze, were rediscovered. Art Nouveau ceramics were also influenced by traditional and modern Japanese and Chinese ceramics, whose vegetal and floral motifs fitted well with the Art Nouveau style. In France, artists also rediscovered the traditional stoneware (grés) methods and reinvented them with new motifs.
Émile Gallé, in Nancy, created earthenware works in natural earth colors with naturalistic themes of plants and insects. Ceramics also found an important new use in architecture: Art Nouveau architects, Jules Lavirotte and Hector Guimard among them, began to decorate the façades of buildings with architectural ceramics, many of them made by the firm of Alexandre Bigot, giving them a distinct Art Nouveau sculptural look.
One of the pioneer French Art Nouveau ceramists was Ernest Chaplet, whose career in ceramics spanned thirty years. He began producing stoneware influenced by Japanese and Chinese prototypes. Beginning in 1886, he worked with painter Paul Gauguin on stoneware designs with applied figures, multiple handles, painted and partially glazed, and collaborated with sculptors Félix Bracquemond, Jules Dalou and Auguste Rodin. His works were acclaimed at the 1900 Exposition.
The major national ceramics firms had an important place at the 1900 Paris Exposition: the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres outside Paris; Nymphenburg, Meissen, Villeroy & Boch in Germany, and Doulton in Britain. Other leading French ceramists included Taxile Doat, Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat, Edmond Lachenal, Albert Dammouse and Auguste Delaherche.
In France, Art Nouveau ceramics sometimes crossed the line into sculpture. The porcelain figurine Dancer with a Scarf by Agathon Léonard, made for the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, won recognition in both categories at the 1900 Paris Exposition.
The Zsolnay factory in Pécs, Hungary, was founded by Miklós Zsolnay (1800–1880) in 1853 and led by his son, Vilmos Zsolnay (1828–1900) with chief designer Tádé Sikorski (1852–1940) to produce stoneware and other ceramics. In 1893, Zsolnay introduced porcelain pieces made of eosin. He led the factory to worldwide recognition by demonstrating its innovative products at world fairs and international exhibitions, including the 1873 World Fair in Vienna, then at the 1878 World Fair in Paris, where Zsolnay received a Grand Prix. Frost-resisting Zsolnay building decorations were used in numerous buildings, specifically during the Art Nouveau movement.
Ceramic tiles were also a distinctive feature of Portuguese Arte Nova that continued the long azulejo tradition of the country.
fMosaics were used by many Art Nouveau artists of different movements, especially of Catalan Modernisme (Hospital de Sant Pau, Palau de la Música Catalana, Casa Lleó-Morera and many others). Antoni Gaudí invented a new technique in the treatment of materials called trencadís, which used waste ceramic pieces.
Colourful Maiolica tile in floral designs wee a distinctive feature of the Majolica House in Vienna by Otto Wagner, (1898) and of the buildings of the works of the Russian Abramtsevo Colony, especially those by Mikhail Vrubel.
Textiles and wallpaper
Textiles and wallpapers were an important vehicle of Art Nouveau from the beginning of the style, and an essential element of Art Nouveau interior design. In Britain, the textile designs of William Morris had helped launch the Arts and Crafts movement and then Art Nouveau. Many designs were created for the Liberty department store in London, which popularized the style throughout Europe. One such designer was the Silver Studio, which provided colourful stylized floral patterns. Other distinctive designs came from Glasgow School, and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. The Glasgow school introduced several distinctive motifs, including stylized eggs, geometric forms and the "Rose of Glasgow".
In France, a major contribution was made by designer Eugène Grasset who in 1896 published La Plante et ses applications ornamentales, suggesting Art Nouveau designs based on different flowers and plants. Many patterns were designed for and produced by for the major French textile manufacturers in Mulhouse, Lille and Lyon, by German and Belgian workshops. The German designer Hermann Obrist specialized in floral patterns, particularly the cyclamen and the "whiplash" style based on flower stems, which became a major motif of the style. The Belgian Henry van de Velde presented a textile work, La Veillée d'Anges, at the Salon La Libre Esthéthique in Brussels, inspired by the symbolism of Paul Gauguin and of the Nabis. In the Netherlands, textiles were often inspired by batik patterns from the Dutch colonies in the East Indies. Folk art also inspired the creation of tapestries, carpets, embroidery and textiles in Central Europe and Scandinavia, in the work of Gerhard Munthe and Frida Hansen in Norway. The Five Swans design of Otto Eckmann appeared in more than one hundred different versions. The Hungarian designer János Vaszary combined Art Nouveau elements with folkloric themes.
- Art Nouveau in Milan
- Art Nouveau in Poland
- Art Nouveau religious buildings
- Belle Époque
- Fin de siècle
- Paris architecture of the Belle Époque
- Réseau Art Nouveau Network
- Secession (art)
- Second Industrial Revolution
- Timeline of Art Nouveau
- World Art Nouveau Day
- Art Deco