Art Nouveau Movement:
Table of Contents
What is Art Nouveau?
Art Nouveau emerged in the 19th century. Literally meaning ‘New Art’ this art movement lasted from 1890 to 1910. This form of art aimed at modernizing design and went against the previous styles like Impressionism which was popular before this.
The term Art Nouveau first emerged in the Belgian Art journal in 1884 to describe Les Vinit’s work, which is a society of 20 artists. The journal was named L’Art Moderne.
There have been two main influencers of the movement in the beginning. The arts was the introduction of the British Arts and Crafts movement which was seen as a reaction to Victorian-era art.
The second influence was the Japanese art or wooden block prints which consisted of floral patterns and ‘whiplash’ curves. These designs went on to become the signature styles of Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau Artists
The artists of this movement wanted to abolish a traditional form of art which they thought only served the elite. This art came in the form of geometric designs coming together to form a fluid picture. The strokes were linear and the images were inspired from geometric patterns as well as the organic patterns found in nature.
The color schemes were mainly muted tones of green, brown, yellow and blue. Art Nouveau ran out of steam at the beginning of the First World War and made way for the Art Deco in the 1920s. Art Deco is the predecessor of Modernism.
What are the Main Themes in Art Nouveau?
There are multiple themes Art Nouveau artists rely upon while doing their work. This movement emerged during Industrialization and hence artists turned to the pre-industrial past for inspiration.
In Russia, Art Nouveau artists were influenced by Russian folk tales and in France, it was French design another theme which French artists focussed upon, especially the ones from Paris was nature. They focused on the life cycle of nature, and sometimes, the dark side of nature was also portrayed in paintings.
Art Nouveau Feature: Women as Subjects
Women were always seen as muses for paintings. During the 17th and 18th centuries, women were portrayed as either naive women waiting to be rescued or the sinner whose ultimate fate is damnation. However, in Art Nouveau, the woman is represented as highly sexualized with a dark side.
This movement merged during the time of the suffrage and gaining the right to divorce men. The woman is portrayed as morally compromising and everything the Victorian society has told a woman not to be. These portrayals have come from women artists of the movement.
Different Styles of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau does not pertain to paintings and decorations. It has also influenced architecture during the beginning of the 19th century. The central idea behind this style of architecture was to have as much sunlight as possible in the house.
Furniture styles also changed during this movement with the chairs and tables become more slender and stylised.
Artists and Architects who took the Art Nouveau movement forward
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Painter specializing in Symbolism. He helped spearhead the Vienna Secession Movement. Klimt is known for his paintings, murals, and sketches. His primary muse is the female body and his work borders on eroticism. Some of his famous paintings are The Kiss, Danaë, Beethoven Frieze, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Adele Bloch-Bauer II.
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, also known as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, illustrator, printmaker. He became famous when his works were displayed in the theatres of Paris.
Art Nouveau Movement
A lot of his work was seen as very provocative in the 19th century. Some of his well-known works are At the Moulin Rouge, The Hangover, Maxime Dethomas at the Bal de l’Opera, La Goulue Entering the Moulin Rouge, In The Restaurant La Mie.
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English author and illustrator. He was known for his illustrations which were inspired from Japanese woodcuts. They were drawn with black ink and brought out the morbidity. He was part of the Aesthetic Movement which included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeil. His most famous work is The Peacock Skirt.
Koloman Moser was an Austrian artist. He was one of the most famous graphic artists of the time and the formats artists of the Vienna Secession Movement. He was the co-founder of Weiner Werkstätte. He is known for The enchanted princesses, corner cabinet, Beer Glass, Venus in the Grotto, Flower Basket.