Art Nouveau, 1890-1914, explores a new style in the visual arts and architecture that developed in Europe and North America at the end of the nineteenth century.

1900 World's Fair in Paris, where Art Nouveau was established as the first new decorative style of the twentieth century.

At its height, Art Nouveau was a concerted attempt to create an international style based on decoration. It was developed by a brilliant and energetic generation of artists and designers, who sought to fashion an art form appropriate to the modern age. During this extraordinary time, urban life as we now understand it was established. Old customs, habits, and artistic styles sat alongside new, combining a wide range of contradictory images and ideas. Many artists, designers, and architects were excited by new technologies and lifestyles, while others retreated into the past, embracing the spirit world, fantasy, and myth.

Art Nouveau was in many ways a response to the Industrial Revolution. Some artists welcomed technological progress and embraced the aesthetic possibilities of new materials such as cast iron. Others deplored the shoddiness of mass-produced machine-made goods and aimed to elevate the decorative arts to the level of fine art by applying the highest standards of craftsmanship and design to everyday objects. Art Nouveau designers also believed that all the arts should work in harmony to create a "total work of art," or Gesamtkunstwerk: buildings, furniture, textiles, clothes, and jewelry all conformed to the principles of Art Nouveau.



ARTISTS

Edmond François Aman-Jean
(1858-1936)

Aman-Jean established his reputation primarily for his portraits, especially female subjects; he was also noted for his murals in public and official buildings, including the Sorbonne. Like many French artists of his generation, he was influenced by the new perspectives on Japanese art current in Paris; more unusually, he was interested in the Pre-Raphaelite artists in England.


Aubrey Beardsley
(1872–1898)

English illustrator and author. Beardsley's preferred medium was black ink, which he used to create highly erotic, grotesque and decadant drawings, much in the style of Japanese woodcuts. Beardsley's work was part of the Aesthetic movement, and was highly influential to the subsequent Art Nouveau movement of the early twentieth century.


Mary Cassatt
(1844-1926)

American painter and printmaker. Born in Pennsylvania, but lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children.


Jules Chéret
(1836-1932)

Trained in lithography in London, England, where he was strongly influenced by the British approach to poster design and printing. On returning to France, Chéret created vivid poster ads for the cabarets, music halls, and theaters such as the Eldorado, the Olympia, the Folies Bergère, Théâtre de l'Opéra, the Alcazar d'Été and the Moulin Rouge. He created posters and illustrations for the satirical weekly Le Courrier français.


Hassam Childe
(1859-1935)

American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes. Along with Mary Cassatt and John Henry Twachtman, Hassam was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers, and museums. He produced over 3,000 paintings, oils, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs over the course of his career, and was an influential American artist of the early 20th century.


Walter Crane
(1845–1915)

English artist and book illustrator. He is considered to be the most influential, and among the most prolific, children’s book creator of his generation and, along with Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway, one of the strongest contributors to the child's nursery motif that the genre of English children's illustrated literature would exhibit in its developmental stages in the latter 19th century.


Thomas Eakins
(1844-1916)

American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important artists in American art history.


Eugène Grasset
(1845–1917)

Franco-Swiss decorative artist who worked in Paris, France in a variety of creative design fields during the Belle Époque. He is considered a pioneer in Art Nouveau design.


Ferdinand Hodler
(1853-1918)

Swiss painter of the nineteenth century. His early works were portraits, landscapes, and genre paintings in a realistic style. Later, he adopted a personal form of symbolism he called Parallelism.


Winslow Homer
(1836-1910)

American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art. Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.


Gustav Klimt
(1862–1918)

The most renowned advocator of Art Nouveau in Vienna, and is remembered as one of the greatest decorative painters of the twentieth century. He also produced one of the century's most significant bodies of erotic art.


Henri de Toulouse Lautrec
(1864-1901)

French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century allowed him to produce a collection of enticing, elegant and provocative images of the modern, sometimes decadent, life of those times.


Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
(1865-1953)

French Symbolist and Art Nouveau artist whose works include paintings, drawings, ceramics, furniture and interior design. His paintings became popular with the public and among fellow artists as well. He earned high praise for the academic attention to detail with which he captured figures lost in a Pre-Raphaelite haze of melancholy, contrasted with bright Impressionist colouration.


Ephraim Moses Lilien
(1874–1925)

Art nouveau illustrator and printmaker particularly noted for his art on Jewish and Zionist themes. He is sometimes called the "first Zionist artist."


Franz Matsch
(1861-1942)

Viennese painter and sculptor, and for a time, was one of Gustav Klimt's closest collaborators during turn-of-the-century Austria. Along with the Klimt brothers Gustav and Ernst, Matsch was one of the leading ceiling painters and architectural decorators working in and around Vienna's Ringstrasse.


William Morris
(1834-1896)

English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre.


Koloman Moser
(1868-1918)

Austrian painter, designer graphic artist, and a co-founder of both the Vienna Secession and Weiner Werkstatte. In addition to designing many book covers and the magazine for the Secession, Moser was an incredibly versatile designer who worked with jewelry, tapestries, blown and stained glass, porcelains and ceramics, postage stamps, magazine vignettes, fashion, tableware, silver, jewelry, furniture and much more.


Alphonse Mucha
(1860–1939)

A Czech painter, designer and illustrator commonly associated with the Art Nouveau movement. Although largely forgotten in the annals of decorative art, Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewelry, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was termed initially The Mucha Style but became known as Art Nouveau (French for "new art"). Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful young women in flowing, vaguely Neoclassical-looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used pale pastel colors.


Maurice Prendergast
(1858-1924)

American Post-Impressionist artist who worked in oil, watercolor, and monotype. He exhibited as a member of The Eight, though the delicacy of his compositions and mosaic-like beauty of his style differed from the artistic intentions and philosophy of the group. ("The Eight" protested against the academic bias and restrictive exhibition policies of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design).


Johan Thorn Prikker
(1868-1932)

Dutch artist who worked in Germany after 1904. His activities were very eclectic, including architecture, lithography, furniture, stained-glass windows, mosaics, tapestries and book covers as well as painting. He also worked in a variety of styles; such as Symbolism, Impressionism and Art Nouveau.


József Rippl-Rónai
(1861–1927)

One of the leading figures of modern Hungarian art. The best Hungarian representative of the Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau endeavors. His art is rich in colors, boldly stylized line game features decorativeness.


John Singer Sargent
(1856-1925)

American artist, considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury. Sargent was elected an associate of the Royal Academy [1890], and was made a full member three years later. In the 1890s, he averaged fourteen portrait commissions per year.


Valentin Alexandrovich Serov
(1865–1911)

Russian painter, and one of the premier portrait artists of his era. From 1890 on, portraiture became Serov's basic genre in art. In this field his early style became apparent, the paintings notable for the psychologically pointed characteristics of his subjects. Serov's favorite models were actors, artists, and writers.


Théophile Steinlen
(1859–1923)

Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. He produced hundreds of illustrations, a number of which were done under a pseudonym so as to avoid political problems because of their harsh criticisms of societal ills. Steinlen often painted scenes of some of the harsher aspects of life in the area. In addition to paintings and drawings, he also did sculpture on a limited basis, most notably figures of cats that he had great affection for as seen in many of his paintings.


Virginia Frances Sterrett
(1900–1931)

American artist and illustrator. Sterrett (diagnosed with tuberculosis) was able to work on projects for short periods of time only and as a result, she was able to complete just one further commission prior to her death—her own interpretation of Arabian Nights (1928).


John Henry Twachtman
(1853-1902)

American painter best known for his impressionist landscapes, though his painting style varied widely through his career. Art historians consider Twachtman's style of American Impressionism to be among the more personal and experimental of his generation.


János Miklós Vaszary
(1867-1939)

Hungarian painter and graphic artist. During World War I, he served as a correspondent on the Serbian front and his imagery became more dramatic but, after another visit to Paris, he returned to his Impressionist tendencies.


James A. M. Whistler
(1834-1903)

American-born, British-based artist active during the American Gilded Age. He was averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, and was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. Whistler influenced the art world and the broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.


Adolphe-Leon Willette
(1857-1926)

French painter, illustrator, caricaturist, and lithographer, as well as an architect of the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. The artist was a prolific contributor to the French illustrated press under the pseudonyms "Cemoi", "Pierrot", "Louison", "Bebe", and "Nox", but more often under his own name.


Stanisław Wyspiański
(1869–1907)

Polish playwright, painter and poet, as well as interior and furniture designer. Wyspiański was one of the most outstanding and multifaceted artists of his time in Poland under the foreign partitions. He successfully joined the trends of modernism with themes of the Polish folk tradition and Romantic history.

Influential Designers

Antoni Gaudi
(1852-1926)

Spanish Catalan architect, and the most popular representative of the Catalan Modernista movement, which combined elements of Art Nouveau, Japonisme, Gothic design, and geometric forms. Gaudi's design style has been referred to as "global," indicating a profound attention to every detail of his work, from a building's structure and placement down to its smallest decorative details. Gaudi's masterpiece is considered to be the Sagrada Familia, a distinctly modern Roman Catholic church in Barcelona.


Josef Hoffmann
(1870-1956)

Austrian architect, designer, and one of the founders of Weiner Werkstatte, a production company of visual artists. Arguably Hoffmann's most famous work was his Art Deco Palais Stoclet, a private home in Brussels, for which Gustav Klimt provided some of the wall decorations.


Rene Lalique
(1860-1945)

French industrial and decorative designer who is associated with both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Known primarily as a glass maker, Lalique created chandeliers, jewelry, vases, perfume bottle, clocks and automobile hood ornaments, among other decorative objects. In addition to designing works for jewelers such as Cartier and Boucheron, Lalique is perhaps best known for designing lighted glass walls and other objects for the "grand salon" of the SS Normandie steamship.


Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty
(1843-1917)

English merchant and the founder of London's Liberty & Co, a store that sold ornaments, fabrics and various art objects from the Far East. Liberty's store became a popular destination for artists and designers working in the Art Nouveau style during the turn of the twentieth century. In fact, Liberty & Co's reputation grew to the point where in some circles, particularly among Italian practitioners of the style, Art Nouveau became known as Stile Liberty.


Adolf Loos
(1870-1933)

Nineteenth and twentieth-century Czech-born Austrian architect, and one of the key promoters and designers of turn-of-the-century modern European architecture. Loos' designs represented a unique blend of classical Baroque-style ornamentation and modern Art Nouveau aesthetics.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh
(1868-1928)

Scottish architect, designer, sculptor and decorative artist, associated with the Arts & Crafts Movement, but is best known as the United Kingdom's greatest proponent of Art Nouveau. However, unlike many of his Art Nouveau contemporaries in the field of architecture, Mackintosh preferred simple design and economy of form as opposed to ornate decoration. Mackintosh was also a founding member of the Glasgow School movement and the so-called "Glasgow style" of architecture.


Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo
(1851-1942)

Late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century English architect, furniture maker and interior designer whose work was influential to the Arts & Crafts Movement. Mackmurdo enjoyed success at an early age, opening his own architecture practice in London at age 28, and was involved in the craft guild The Century Guild of Artist, which encouraged members to participate in the production as well as design of homes, furnishings and other projects.


Joseph Maria Olbrich
(1867-1908)

Austrian architect and one of the founders of the Vienna Secession. In 1897 Olbrich designed and built Vienna's Secession Building, which housed all of the group's exhibitions. In his later years Olbrich branched out and began designing furniture, pottery and musical instruments.


Louis Comfort Tiffany
(1848-1933)

American glass designer, painter and decorative artist, and undoubtedly the American most associated with the Art Nouveau movement. Tiffany's hand-made glass designs, which used opalescent glass in various colors to create a uniquely modern style of stained glass, are very much synonymous with the aesthetic luxury and opulence of the era. Tiffany's father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, was the founder of Tiffany & Co jewelry, and Tiffany himself was the company's first design director.


Otto Wagner
(1841-1918)

Austrian architect and urban planner. His appraoch is considered part of the Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, style of architecture, characterized by clean lines and ornate decoration. In 1897 Wagner became one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession.




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