Art Nouveau

art nouveau (är´ nōōvō´), decorative-art movement centered in Western Europe. It began in the 1880s as a reaction against the historical emphasis of mid-19th-century art, but did not survive World War I. Art nouveau originated in London and was variously called Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionstil in Austria, and Modernismo in Spain. In general it was most successfully practiced in the decorative arts: furniture, jewelry, and book design and illustration. The style was richly ornamental and asymmetrical, characterized by a whiplash linearity reminiscent of twining plant tendrils. Its exponents chose themes fraught with symbolism, frequently of an erotic nature. They imbued their designs with dreamlike and exotic forms. The outstanding designers of art nouveau in England include the graphic artist Aubrey Beardsley, A. H. Mackmurdo, Charles Ricketts, Walter Crane, and the Scottish architect Charles R. Mackintosh; in Belgium the architects Henry Van de Velde and Victor Horta; in France the architect and designer of the Paris métro entrances, Hector Guimard, and the jewelry designer René Lalique; in Austria the painter Gustav Klimt; in Spain the architect Antonio Gaudí; in Germany the illustrator Otto Eckmann and the architect Peter Behrens; in Italy the originator of the ornamental Floreale style, Giuseppe Sommaruga; and in the United States Louis Sullivan, whose architecture was dressed with art nouveau detail, and the designer of elegant glassware Louis C. Tiffany. The aesthetics of the movement were disseminated through various illustrated periodicals including The Century Guild Hobby Horse (1894), The Dial (1889), The Studio (begun, 1893), The Yellow Book (1894–95), and The Savoy (1896–98). The works of Beardsley and Tiffany were especially popular.

See definitive studies by R. Schmutzler (1964), M. Rheims (1966), A. Mackintosh, Symbolism and Art Nouveau (1978).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Art Nouveau: Selected full-text books and articles

Art Nouveau By Robert Schmutzler Harry N. Abrams, 1962
The Art Nouveau By Henry F. Lenning Martinus Nijhoff, 1951
Revisiting the Style of ART NOUVEAU By Greenhalgh, Paul USA TODAY, Vol. 129, No. 2664, September 2000
Art Nouveau: Politics and Style By Greenhalgh, Paul History Today, Vol. 50, No. 4, April 2000
Graphic Style: From Victorian to Digital By Steven Heller; Seymour Chwast Harry N. Abrams, 2000 (New edition)
Librarian's tip: "Art Nouveau" begins on p. 41
Modern Building; Its Nature, Problems, and Forms By Walter Behrendt Curt Harcourt Brace and Company, 1937
Librarian's tip: "Art Nouveau: Rise of a New Ornament" begins on p. 76
Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France By Lisa Tiersten University of California Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: "The Art Nouveau Experiment" begins on p. 175
The Japanese Influence in America By Clay Lancaster Walton H. Rawls, 1963
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Art Nouveau begins on p. 25
Period Design Series: All about Art Nouveau By Pacitti, Michael Art Business News, Fall 2014
A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art By Ian Chilvers Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: "Art Nouveau" begins on p. 34
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