” The terrifying and edible beauty of Art Nouveau architecture” – Salvador Dali

During the late 1800s, many European artists, graphic designers, and architects rebelled against formal, classical approaches to design. They believed that the greatest beauty could be found in nature. Art Nouveau (French for “New Style”) was popularized by the famous Maison de l’Art Nouveau, a Paris art gallery operated by Siegfried Bing. Art Nouveau art and architecture flourished in major European cities between 1890 and 1914.
Art Nouveau in Europe was expressed in countries like Belgium, Switzerland and France (Victor Horta, Hector Guimard), Austria (Vienna Secesionn- Gustav Klint, Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffman, Joseph Maria Olbrich), Britain (Charles Rennie Mackintosh), Spain as Modernisme( Antoni Gaudi)
In the United States, Art Nouveau ideas were expressed in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Designers and architects were inspired by discovery of nature photography.

Art Nouveau was a very dominat European style and has made itself know and present from 1880s to 1910s. This movement walked under the flag of an art that would break all connections to classical times, and bring down the barriers between the fine arts and applied arts. Art Nouveau was more than a mere style. It was a way of thinking about modern society and new production methods. It was an attempt to redefine the meaning and nature of the work of art. From that time on, it was the duty of art not to overlook any everyday object, no matter how utilitarian it might be. This approach was considered completely new and revolutionary, thus the New Art – Art Nouveau name.
An artist should work on everything from architecture to furniture design so that art would become a part of everyday life. By making beauty and harmony a part of everyday life, artists make people’s lives better. This approach has been represented in painting, architecture, furniture, glassware, graphic design, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, and textiles and sculpture. Advertising posters were welcomed into art, and fence has been proclaimed a suitable exhibition place for this new art. This was a sharp contrast to the traditional separation of art into the distinct categories of fine art (painting and sculpture) and applied arts (ceramics, furniture, and other practical objects).
Because of typical flat, decorative patterns used in all art forms, Art Nouveau obtained a nickname ‘the noodle style’ in French, ‘Le style nouilles’. Visual standards of the Art Nouveau style are flat, decorative patterns, intertwined organic forms of stems or flowers. Art Nouveau emphasized handcrafting as opposed to machine manufacturing, the use of new materials. Although curving lines characterize Art Nouveau, right-angled forms are also typical, especially as the style was practiced in Scotland and in Austria. Typical for this style was artistic application of modern industrial techniques and modern materials. Principal subjects are lavish birds and flowers, insects and polyformic femme fatale. Abstract lines and shapes are used widely as a filling for recognizable subject matter. Purposeful elimination of three-dimensions is often applied through reduced shading. Art Nouveau artifacts are beautiful objects of art, but not necessarily very functional.
Art Nouveau, one of the last remaining dominant European styles, can also be looked at from a different perspective. Maybe it’s not its combination of industrial novelties and natural themes that overwhelmed the continent, but the daring new points of view, the fitting together of known technologies and known patterns into a whole new idea. Look at the ceiling of the Palau de la Musica Catalan in Barcelona (picture below).

It combines existing ideas and technologies, but creates a new interpretation.
Art Nouveau, in my opinion, wanted to escape from a classical influence and wanted to have a new approach to design. I admire classical language but maybe it became a bit boring for nineteenth century designers or the ninetheenth century designer wanted to find someting new and exciting.
Classical style was dominating in eighteenth century and succeed in its style. It was a style that was taking inspirations from Greek and Roman architecture.
Classical architecture has inspired many recent architects and has led to revivals such as neoclassical architecture from the mid-18th century and the Greek Revival of the 19th century.
Neoclassical architecture characterise element such as columns, pediments, friezes, and other ornamental schemes.
My favourite architec of that time was Robert Adam which produced linear style with Roman style decorative motifs such as vases, urns, scrolls, ribbons and he as well was applying to his design motifs from nature.
As we can see nature is part of our culture, “when much culture leans towards entertaiment and much nature towards the artificial”– Bernard Tschumi.

Picture above – dinnig room design by Eugene Valin Maison Masson, Nancy, France.

Picture above- Antoni Gaudi, dining room in Casa Batllo, 1904-06.

Picture above- Cassa Batllo, secend floor plan.

In the works of Horta, Gaudi, Guimard, Mackintosh and other protagonists the static, rational types of neo-classical of historicism were substituted by a new universe of expressive means. The point of departure was again the basic properties of earth and sky, as exemplified by Otto Wagne’s Karlsplatz station in Vienna (1899-1900).

Karlsplatz Station in Vienna.

We can observe composition which is classical in its regular symmetry. Victor Horta in his Maison du Peuple on the contrary developed a sensitive interplay of symmetries and asymmetries.
That symmetrical arrangement was very common for Robert Adam designs. This is very interesting of Adam’s work because each of his interior or exterior work characterize symmetry. Adam was carefully designed and arranging spaces to keep the balance.
In Art Nouveau it is visible a strong sense of details. This new art was a new expression of new possibilities like continuous pattres of curved lines.


~ by malgodesign on January 27, 2010.

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