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senses-artnouveau.com: "Art Nouveau: history"

Short History of
Art Nouveau

  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 focus points.

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 díArt", 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.


Short History : Part 2 ... : 

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