Art Nouveau is a style of art that appeared in Europe during the late 19th century, though it's influence is global and continuous. The artistic style, which takes its name from the French, literally means "new art" and is characterized by the use of organic shapes and dramatic, curving lines that encompass many forms of art including paintings, glassware, furniture, and architecture. Many of its themes are taken from nature, though presented quite abstractly, and includes plants, flowers, and naturally curved lines. Some famous artists for this style include Aubrey Beardsley, Thomas Malory, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. This stylistic choice was eventually replaced in the twentieth century, but its influence can still be seen in Europe and other parts of the world.
|Poster by Toulouse Lautrec|
Besides nature, the Art Nouveau style also gleans inspiration from High Victorian, Roccoco, and Japanese art; in addition, this artistic style has affinities with the contemporary Pre-Raphaelite, Symbolism, and Arts and Crafts styles. The 19th century artistic style was succeeded 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 jewelry. Art Nouveau had a few revivals throughout the Western world in the early 20th century, notably the artistic style known as Jugendstil in Germany and Scandinavia.
Commonly found in architecture and design, the art nouveau style can be seen in many of the world's cities, and perhaps most famously in the Parisian Metro stations. Many of the metro stations have cast iron supports that resemble plant stems on the exterior portions of the buildings, and others have detailed glass canopies designed in the "new art" style. While there were glass canopies designed in this artistic style, smaller glassware were created as well. This lead to jewelry being created in the new art style, which is still used today for jewelry design. Art Nouveau also frequently appeared in paintings, illustrations, and advertisements of the 19th century, as well as many furniture pieces.
|Adele Bloch-Bauer portrait by Gustav Klimt 1907|
Rennie Mackintosh was a major Art Nouveau architect and furniture designer who worked in Scotland and England, and his work provides classic examples of the artistic style. Parisians Rene Lalique and Emile Galle, and the American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany are among the artists who helped extend the style to jewelry and various decorative arts. Aubrey Beardsley famously illustrated Oscar Wilde's play Salome, Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, and the periodical The Yellow Book.
In the category of painters, Alphonse Mucha was a Czech painter best remembered for his "new art" poster designs, and Gustav Klimt was a Viennese painter and muralist noted for his heavy use of gold and mosaic-like designs. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec became famous for his Moulin Rouge, Art Nouveau style, while Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter, produced some of the darkest examples of the artistic style in his Frieze of Life series of paintings.