Short History of
||Arts and Crafts, Modern Style, Modernismo, Stile Liberty, Secession, Jungendstil, different names for the same concept : Art Nouveau
It all started in 1861 in England, the most industrialized country
at the time, where William Morris in collaboration
with other artists, created the Arts and Crafts Movement as a reaction
to the mid-19th-century artistic styles.
Following socialist ideas, they wanted an art for everyone, all objects
being of beauty and of use and had to be handmade. They did not completely
succeed, as hand production was too expensive for the masses, but schools,
exhibitions and magazines largely diffused those ideas and they created
a favourable environment for the birth of Art Nouveau.
Many artists, architects, designers and intellectuals in all forms of
decorative and visual arts, as well as cultural and avant-garde fields,
explored the idea to create an "art of modern life".
The new Style was richly ornamental, characterised by curves and willowy
lines. The painters, illustrators, jewellery and glassware designers explored
symbolic or dreamlike themes, frequently of an erotic nature such as feminine
figures in light dresses and evanescent landscapes, but also ornamental
details, floral patterns and decorative elements being elevated to central
In 1893, greatly influenced by the ideas of Morris, a young Belgian
Architect Victor Horta , began to plan the first
important house to be built in Art Nouveau Style : la Maison Tassel.
In 1894, also in Brussels, Henri van de Velde
published the pamphlet "le Déblaiement d’Art", in which he developed
new and nearly revolutionary ideas relating to fine arts and decorative
arts, whereas architecture and interior design had to rise to the status
of a total work of art.
A year later in 1895, in Paris, the pioneer city of so many world affecting
art forms, the name of the Movement -Art Nouveau- was finally settled
in the French language. In particular because of the art gallery "La Maison
de l'Art Nouveau", which was opened as a showroom for the new art by a
Japanese art collector, Siegfried Bing.
Paris added also a touch of glamour to Art Nouveau with the "Divine"
Sarah Bernhardt and her protégés: Alfons Mucha
and jewellery and perfume bottles designer René Lalique.
Between 1892 and 1897, the Symbolism Movement flourished in France and
Belgium, whereas painters such as Odilon Redon and Ferdinand Knopf explored
mystical and metaphysical themes, and they deeply influenced Art Nouveau
artists and designers, such as the illustrator Alfons Mucha or the glassware
designer Emile Gallé.