Art History is Cool – Art Nouveau

What makes Art Nouveau so unique, is that it was created for a very simple purpose: to beautify. To make cities, homes, posters, advertisements – in short, the world around us – beautiful. (you might know the famous curvy green Metro station in Paris) This isn’t a typical “fine art” movement, found only in painting or sculpture, this was a movement found within everyday objects of upper-middle class people.

Inspired by the curving lines and floral patterns found in nature, Art Nouveau is popularized today by the work of Alphonse Mucha. Almost all of his work seems to feature nymph-like women, usually with really long hair. There is a flatness to his work, which gives it a graphic design aspect, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in detail and sophistication. The colors he uses are so harmonious!

Alphonse Mucha, Autumn and Spring, 1896

These two below are posters or advertisements. I like to imagine these type of posters pasted around Paris in the 1890’s.
Alphonse Mucha, Champenois Imprimeur-Editeur, 1897
Alphonse Mucha, Biscuits Lefevre-Utile, 1896

What is also really unique and exciting about Art Nouveau was that it was used in architecture and interior design. This design aesthetic pervaded every aspect of urban life.
Victor Horta, staircase in the Van Eetvelde House, Brussels, Belgium, 1895
Designed by Jules Lavirotte and Alexandre Bigot, Paris, 1901

Here are some textile designs as well.
Rene Beauclair, Decorative Designs, 1900

Some people find this style too ornate. How do you feel about it?

I'm a Californian in my mid-twenties who studied Art History and lived in France for 3 years. I blog honestly about my travels, share my thoughts on life, and get poetic about art and photography. I also sell prints of my photographs on Etsy.

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