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Art Nouveau

Out with the old, in with the sexy.

18901910

Out with the old, in with the sexy.

Art Nouveau appeared at the turn of the 20th century all at once, everywhere. A style defined by sinewy, organic lines and an overtly decorative flair, it was called Modern Style in Britain, Style Nouille in Belgium, Wiener Jugendstil in Germany, and Tiffany Style in the United States. So what on earth was it, and how did it spread so fast?

The decades before 1900 were a perfect storm of aesthetic developments and cultural evolution, leading to a global Art Nouveau takeover. We don’t usually go for bullet points at Trivium, but there’s a lot to cover. Here are just a few of the influences:

  • Designer and writer William Morris works to harness the new power of industrial manufacturing to bring beautifully crafted objects to common people. 
  • Japanese ukyio-e woodblock prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai are imported to Europe in the 1870s, and spread by Le Japon artistique, a monthly art journal by art dealer Siegfried Bing.
  • Magazines like The Studio in England, Arts et idèes and Art et décoration in France, and Jugend in Germany bring the latest art to a broad popular audience, and illustration flourishes.
  • Biologist Ernst Haeckel publishes his beautifully illustrated Art Forms of Nature in 1899 to massive popular success. The world goes nature-crazy.
  • Siegfried Bing opens a new gallery in Paris, the Maison de l'Art Nouveau, breaking new ground by showing more than paintings — including glass work, jewelry and posters.
  • Painter James Whistler’s The Peacock Room and William Morris’s Red House show a trend of artists tackling full environmental design, called Gesamtkunstwerks or ‘total works of art’.

So Art Nouveau was the complex child of illustrators, artists, Japanism, industrialization and enterprising magazine salesmen. But it exploded at the Exposition Universelle, the Word’s Fair held in Paris in 1900. Nearly 50 million people flooded into the city to see modern marvels like the escalator, diesel engines, and Matryoshka dolls. But the real highlight of the Exposition was the 'new art' — which was built into the event itself. The grand Porte Monumentale entrance and many of the pavilions were designed in the organic, ‘whiplash’ style, and perhaps most importantly, the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs — a decorative arts organization showcased purchasable art nouveau furniture and housewares, sending people all over the world back to their homes with a piece of the movement.

Perhaps because Art Nouveau grew so quickly, it also faded from popularity incredibly fast. By 1910, the style had evolved from organic floral into geometric angles — which would ubiquitous 1920’s aesthetic Art Deco.

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Trellis

Trellis

William Morris1862-1864
Jasmine

Jasmine

William Morris1872
Marigold

Marigold

William Morris1875
The Peacock Room

The Peacock Room

James McNeill Whistler1877

It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall he worth doing

Art and Socialism

William Morris1884
Wild Tulip

Wild Tulip

William Morris1884
Willow Bough

Willow Bough

William Morris1887
Hamlet and Ophelia

Hamlet and Ophelia

Mikhail Vrubel1888

The purpose of applying art: to add beauty to the results of the work of man and to add pleasure to the work itself

The Arts and Crafts of Today

William Morris1889
The Demon Seated

The Demon Seated

Mikhail Vrubel1890
William MorrisPortrait of William Morris

William Morris

Can you run a socialist company in a capitalist economy?

1834-1896
The Cave of Spleen

The Cave of Spleen

Aubrey Beardsley1896
Princess Reverie

Princess Reverie

Mikhail Vrubel1896
Bogatyr

Bogatyr

Mikhail Vrubel1898
Aubrey BeardsleyPortrait of Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley

"If I am not grotesque I am nothing"

1872-1898
Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel as Princess Volkhova

Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel as Princess Volkhova

Mikhail Vrubel1898
Judith and the Head of Holofernes

Judith and the Head of Holofernes

Gustav Klimt1901
Trees on a Yellow Background

Trees on a Yellow Background

Odilon Redon1901
The Fallen Demon

The Fallen Demon

Mikhail Vrubel1902
Goldfish

Goldfish

Gustav Klimt1901-1902
'Surface Decoration' — Cover

'Surface Decoration' — Cover

Koloman Moser1902
Portrait of Emilie Flöge

Portrait of Emilie Flöge

Gustav Klimt1902
Portrait of Marie Henneberg

Portrait of Marie Henneberg

Gustav Klimt1901-1902
Sketches for Eisler Terramare High Chair

Sketches for Eisler Terramare High Chair

Koloman Moser1903
Hope 1

Hope 1

Gustav Klimt1903
Six-Winged Seraphim

Six-Winged Seraphim

Mikhail Vrubel1904
The Three Ages of Woman

The Three Ages of Woman

Gustav Klimt1905
Salomé, Plate 5

Salomé, Plate 5

Aubrey Beardsley1906
Portrait of Fritza Riedler

Portrait of Fritza Riedler

Gustav Klimt1906
Salomé, Plate 15

Salomé, Plate 15

Aubrey Beardsley1906
Farm Garden with Sunflowers

Farm Garden with Sunflowers

Gustav Klimt1907
Water Snakes 1

Water Snakes 1

Gustav Klimt1904-1907
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Gustav Klimt1907
The Kiss

The Kiss

Gustav Klimt1907-1908
Hope 2

Hope 2

Gustav Klimt1907-1908
Danaë

Danaë

Gustav Klimt1907-1908
A Tree in Late Autumn

A Tree in Late Autumn

Egon Schiele1911
Portrait of Mäda Primavesi

Portrait of Mäda Primavesi

Gustav Klimt1912
Ria Munk on her Deathbed

Ria Munk on her Deathbed

Gustav Klimt1912
Valentine Gode Darel in hospital bed

Valentine Gode Darel in hospital bed

Ferdinand Hodler1914
Infant

Infant

Gustav Klimt1917-1918
Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

Gustav Klimt1917-1918
Gustav KlimtPortrait of Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt

Love of country and love of women — especially women

1862-1918
Design for an Exhibition Building

Design for an Exhibition Building

Wenzel Hablik1919
Exhibition Space Wallpapers

Exhibition Space Wallpapers

Wenzel Hablik1921
1 Mark Notgeld

1 Mark Notgeld

Wenzel Hablik1921
20 Mark Notgeld

20 Mark Notgeld

Wenzel Hablik1921
1 Mark Notgeld: Not Kennt

1 Mark Notgeld: Not Kennt

Wenzel Hablik1921
Design for a Great Hall

Design for a Great Hall

Wenzel Hablik1924
Wenzel HablikPortrait of Wenzel Hablik

Wenzel Hablik

The architect of invisible cities

1881-1934

Next movement: Vienna Secession"To every age its art. To art its freedom."

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