In the previous text, talking about the Vienna Secession, we mentioned that it had different names depending on the country in which it occurred. It is believed that the name art nouveau first appeared in Belgium in 1880 when the editor of the Brussels magazine L’Art moderne presented a few young artists who were popular under the name Les Vingt as the bearers, messengers of the new art. We cannot determine with precision the exact time of the creation of Art nouveau, but it is estimated to be the period between 1890 and 1914.
Art nouveau was born during the time of industrialization. Europe at that time was deeply influenced by hyperproduction, which led art nouveau to, among other goals, react against the Industrial Revolution, emphasizing the great importance of craftmanship, while borrowing from industrialization the best it brought.
When we talk about the messengers of new art, it seems to describe the essence that Art nouveau tried to bring. It should be noted that art has long been under the strict supervision of academies. Painting and sculpture were considered higher art forms, while design and decorative arts were a few rungs down. In this respect, the characteristics of Art nouveau as a movement are closely related to the need to break with old academicism and to refresh art, breaking old boundaries. The Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 gave Art nouveau its greatest boost.
Some of the main characteristics of this movement are the use of natural motifs (flora and fauna), the richness of ornamentation, nature as a model, organic (curved) line, asymmetry, symbolism, use of folklore elements, eroticized female characters, development of posters, the influence of Japanese art and others.
Art nouveau was not only the need to break with the old frames of art. “Art Nouveau artists wanted to create a new reality, a modern world with its vocabulary.” It was the wealth of lines, achieving the effect of dynamism through muted colors, that contributed to the impression that it is a movement that offers a new understanding of reality and the world; an understanding that, with its inner movement, changes the outer experience of life.
As a style, Art nouveau influenced not only painting and architecture. At the time of its creation and peak, it included several different areas: from graphic design, and architecture, to interior design. And although its influence began to wane before World War I, it is inevitable to point out that it was not only considered the first modern style but is still present today. In addition, he paved the way for avant-garde art and subsequent trends.
Author: Miloš Lazarević
Image: Birmingham Museums Trust