Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Art Nouveau - what is it?

Last week I posted a few new Art Nouveau Necklaces to my Etsy Shop - an artistic style I just LOVE - so thought it might be good to explore the genre a bit...

So asking the question - What is Art Nouveau - this is what I got...

Art Nouveau Anglicised to /ˈɑːrt nuːˈvoʊ/) is an international philosopy and style of art, architecture and applied art —especially the decorative arts —that were most popular during 1890–1905. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art". It is known also as Jugendstil, German for "youth style", named for the magazine Jugend, which promoted it, and in Italy, Stile Liberty from the department store in London, Liberty & Co., which popularised the style. A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it was inspirated in natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plans, also in curve lines. The architects tried to be in harmony with the natural enviroment. It is also considered a philosophy of design of furniture. They must be designed according to the whole building and making part of ordinary life.
The style was influenced strongly by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha (the above picture is the Mucha Lithograph Zodiac from 1896), when Mucha produced a poster, which appeared on 1 January 1895 in the streets of Paris as an advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou, featuring Sarah Bernhardt. It popularised the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris. Initially named Style Mucha, (Mucha Style), his style soon became known as Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau was most popular in Europe and the British Isles, but its influence was global. Hence, it is known in various guises with frequent localised tendencies. In France, Hector Guimard's Paris metro entrances were of art nouveau style. . Art Nouveau was also a style of distinct individuals such as Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Alphonse Mucha, René Lalique, Antoni Gaudí and Louis Comfort Tiffany, each of whom interpreted it in their own manner.

Although Art Nouveau was replaced by 20th-century modernist styles, it is considered now as an important transition between the historicism of Neoclassicism and modernism. Furthermore, Art Nouveau monuments are now recognised by UNESCO with their World Heritage List as significant contributions to cultural heritage. The historic center of Riga, Latvia, with "the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe", was included on the list during 1997 in part because of the "quality and the quantity of its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture", and four Brussels town houses by Victor Horta were included during 2000 as "works of human creative genius" that are "outstanding examples of Art Nouveau architecture brilliantly illustrating the transition from the 19th to the 20th century in art, thought, and society".

Those involved in the Art Nouveau or New Art Movement wanted to take art away from its classical forms and create a new type of view on art in its various formats. This movement lasted in Europe & North America from approx the 1880's until World War I.It tried to break down the barriers between all types of art, from the traditional, like paintings and sculpture, to arts and crafts, including jewelry, textiles, doors and wallpaper. In this, the Art Nouveau Movement may have succeeded, because both traditional art and non-traditional art from the period are remembered today as being representative of the Art Nouveau period.

Art Nouveau pieces have many curvilinear lines incorporated into their designs and are more organic, focusing on vines, flowers, leaves, insects, birds and, in many cases, women's bodies and faces.

As with any movement when creative human beings interact, there were not clean lines of demarcation in Art Nouveau. For example, the effects of the Industrial Revolution influenced the direction individual Art Nouveau artists took, although artists did not all go on the same path. Some artists embraced the new technologies that were created during the Industrial Revolution. Architects were particularly blessed to have innovations such as steel-reinforced concrete, electric lights and elevators and more ceramic tiling for decoration. On the other hand, some Art Nouveau artists disliked the changes that the Industrial Revolution brought to society and chose to seep their work in mysticism or ancient mythology.

In addition, the Art Nouveau period did not start in 1880 and end with the advent of World War I. Some experts do not set the starting date of Art Nouveau until the 1890s, and artists and architects in some countries, such as Spain, were using Art Nouveau styles well after the end of the Great War.

Art Nouveau was then succeeded later in the 20th Century by the emergent Art Deco style, which incorporated more geometrical shapes and had an even more stylized appearance. However,Art Nouveau still holds somewhat of an influence in certain decorative arts, especially jewellery.

And talking of jewellery, here is a selection of my new necklaces, all representing this WONDERFUL artistic style -