Art Nouveau is French for “New Art.” This style began in the 1890s in France and spread throughout the world. It took designs and forms in nature and used flowing curves to stylize them. Art Nouveau was found primarily in architectural detailing and the applied arts, especially the decorative arts.
Art Nouveau Disciplines
Art Nouveau has had a major influence across different genres in the art world. Here are some of the disciplines where Art Nouveau has had the biggest influence as well as examples of the artists who made an impact.
The classic Art Nouceau design looked as if a plant was actually growing on the building.
Many arches were used that were not the standard arches but resembled parabolas and hyperbolas.
Alfred Wagon was a French architect who designed a doorway that represented plants and had many flowing lines.
A great example is the Chrysler Building in New York, NY, with repeated curved lines at the top, which was designed by William Van Allen.
A Japanese influence can be seen in the ceramics of the Art Nouveau period.
The porcelain that was used was high temperature and the glazes had either a matte or crystallized finish.
Famous artists include Edmond Lachenal and Taxile Doat of France and Artus Van Briggle from the United States.
Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York, Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow, and Emile Galle of France were all influenced by the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau was common on lithographs, wood-block prints, posters, ads and magazines.
One example is a lithograph made by Henry van de Velde called “Tropon.” It has many repeated lines around the word “Tropon” and flowing lines in the center.
One great example of Art Nouveau can be found in the famous painting, The Scream by Edvard Munch. It is almost entirely made of curved lines.
History of Art Nouveau
Now that you have looked at some examples of Art Nouveau, it is helpful to have a little background to better understand what you were looking at and why it is considered Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau was at its peak of popularity between 1980 and 1910.
In Germany, it is referred to as Jugendstil, meaning “youth style,” after the magazine Jugend, which promoted it.
In Russia it was called Modern, in Italy it was Stile Liberty, and in Hungary and Austria it was Secession.
One strong influence in the beginning was a lithograph poster made by Alphonse Mucha from Czechoslovakia.
It was used in Paris in January of 1895 to promote a drama.
The style caught on and was originally called Style Mucha, but soon became Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau Style
One theme that ruins through this style is curves.
There are several repetitions of a curve that emphasizes the shape.
There may also be a whiplash effect that is strong and violent.
Flowing lines is a strong characteristic in all of the Art Nouveau works of art and at times the lines undulate and writhe.
However, while curves are a common characteristic, one of the most interesting things about the Art Nouveau style is the way it encompassed so many different genres. It can be found in architecture, jewelry, metal work, furniture, interior design, cookware, flatware, utensils, cloth, painting, sculpture, glass work, and ceramics.