Art Nouveau Borders

Art Nouveau is best defined as an ornamental style of art that flourished between 1894 and 1914 throughout Europe and the United States. Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters and illustration. It was a deliberate attempt to create a new style, free of the imitative historicism that dominated much of 19th century art and design. Art Nouveau developed first in England and soon spread to the European continent, where it was called Jugendstil in Germany, Sezes- sionstil in Austria, Stile Floreale or Stile Liberty in Italy, and Modernismo or Modernista in Spain. The term Art Nouveau was coined by a gallery in Paris that exhibited much of this work.

Art Nouveau was an extremely eclectic style: that is to say, both the look of the objects and the meanings they conveyed were achieved through the combination of many other styles and ideas. These would be brought together to create a certain effect. Many Art Nouveau objects are deceptively simple, their simplicity masking a complicated combination of visual ideas from wildly diverse places. Often, several of the historical styles would be mixed together and then shrouded with natural forms and symbolist meanings. It was a complicated style for a complicated age, when many contrary forces were forced to live together: the old and the new, the city and the country, science and religion, the individual and the community, the local and the cosmopolitan.

Art Nouveau artists wanted to erase the distinction between major and minor arts. They aimed at unifying all arts and centered it around man and his life. Therefore architecture, which has a direct influence on man's life, was the central art on which every skill is naturally integrated. In England, the style's immediate precursors were the Aestheticism of the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, who depended heavily on the expres- sive quality of organic line, and the Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris, who established the importance of a vital style in the applied arts.

But none are as well-known for their contribution to the Art Nouveau movement as is Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). Mucha was a leading but critically underrated influence in the Art Nouveau style of the turn of the 19th century. Nevertheless, his art was in great demand by the public, as were his jewelry, architecture, sculpture, household objects and vast collections of magazine, poster and calendar illustrations. It was ultimately his poetic vision and innate ability to capture the essence of beautiful form that romanced and intrigued art lovers during his own lifetime and continues to do so today.


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32 Art Nouveau Borders 20 Co-Ordinating BackgroundsPage 1 of 1


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