Art Nouveau (1890 – 1905)

Art Nouveau was a visual arts movement and avant-garde global modern art style that came to prominence from the year 1890 to the First World War. Pre-dominantly stylistic in appearance, the movement emerged as a response to the earlier designs of the 19th-century such as neoclassicism. The movement focused primarily on modernising aesthetics, by the use of various groundbreaking styles and techniques, as a means of breaking free from the popular historical styles of the previous century. Practitioners of the style, sought inspiration from both organic and inorganic forms to produce designs with naturalistic contours.The style was also applied to a variety of different art forms which included architecture, fine art, applied art and the decorative arts.

A breakthrough came for the style by the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it began to spread across Europe, the United States and Australia under different names such as Jugendstil (Germany) and the Tiffany style (America). It was a supremely decorative style consisting of smooth sweeping curvilinear patterns of serpentine asymmetrical lines, inspired by plant forms. The style was most common to glassware, jewellery and ceramics but was also applied to utensils, furniture, lighting, drawing, poster art, book illustration and even at times interior/exterior architecture.

The style although it promoted the overall beautification of design which was widely and quickly accepted by designers, was discarded just as quickly in the turn of the 20th-century. Even though the movement was geared towards the combination of form and function, many artists were excessive  in their use of decorative designs. This is seen primarily in many building exteriors which were overly elaborate and had little regard for functionality in design. Possibly the single greatest contribution Art Nouveau made to the evolution of design, was the emergence of the 1920s Art Deco style which replaced it, as well as being one of the foundations of the Bauhaus school.

Art Nouveau Artwork


Hotel Tassel Staircase (1893-4), Victor Horta


Interior Dome of the Grand Palais  (1897-1900)

Art Nouveau Inspired Artwork


Auditorium and stage of Radio City Music Hall (1932)


Spire of the Chrysler Building (1930), New York City



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