Art Nouveau  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Art Nouveau, (French for 'new art') is an international style of art, architecture and design that peaked in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century (1880s - 1910s) and is characterized by highly-stylized, flowing, curvilinear designs often incorporating natural forms such as floral and other plant-inspired motifs. More localized terms for the phenomenon of self-consciously radical, somewhat mannered reformist chic that formed a prelude to 20th-century modernism include Jugendstil in Germany and many other countries or skønvirke in Denmark, named after the avant-garde periodical Jugend ('Youth'), Młoda Polska ('Young Poland' style) in Poland, and Sezessionsstil ('Secessionism') in Vienna, where forward-looking artists and designers seceded from the mainstream salon exhibitions to exhibit on their own work in more congenial surroundings. Further centers were in Belgium (especially Brussels) and Scotland (Glasgow).

In Russia, the movement revolved around the art magazine Mir iskusstva ('World of Art'), which spawned the revolutionary Ballets Russes. In Italy, Stile Liberty was named for the London shop, Liberty & Co, which distributed modern design emanating from the Arts and Crafts movement, a sign both of the Art Nouveau's commercial aspect and the 'imported' character that it always retained in Italy.

In Spain, the movement was centred in Barcelona and was known as modernisme, with the architect Antoni Gaudí as the most noteworthy practitioner. Art Nouveau was also a force in Eastern Europe, with the influence of Alfons Mucha in Prague and Moravia (part of the modern Czech Republic) and Latvian Romanticism (Riga, the capital of Latvia, is home to over 800 Art Nouveau buildings).

The entrances to the Paris Métro designed by Hector Guimard in 1899 and 1900 are famous examples of Art Nouveau.


The erotic nature of Art Nouveau

The erotic nature of many Art Nouveau works is one of the most prevalent features of the style. Nowhere is it more abundantly seen than in small-scale sculptural or decorative arts objects such as ink-wells, carafes, centrepieces, candelabra, lamps and figurines -- the kind of objects that were disseminated widely and could be brought into any middle-class household. The eroticism of these objects is made all the more complex by their utility and domesticity. They often demand physical engagement: furniture or carafes where the handles are naked women that must be grasped; vessels that metamorphosize into women inviting touch; lamps that provocatively pose women in suggestive positions. These erotically charged objects, unlike most sculpture, demand contact. --by Ghislaine Wood

Noted Art Nouveau practitioners


Art Nouveau architecture

Art, drawing, and graphics


Mural and Mosaic designers

Furniture designers

Glassware and Stained Glass designers

Other decorative artists

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Art Nouveau" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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