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Week 7 - Art Nouveau in France

In France, this period was known as "La Belle Epoch" (or La Belle Epoque) - the Beautiful Era. Art Nouveau in France was separated into two main groups, the Nancy School and the Paris School.
Google.com image search for Art Nouveau France

Nancy School: (Ecole de Nancy)

Nancy is a small city in the east of France in territory disputed as German over the centuries. This regional isolation gave the School of Nancy a character unique from that of the Parisian Art Nouveau. There is more of a Gothic influence, as well as a lingering aeclectic and aesthetic influence. Japonism and Moorish designs were still very much evident in Nancy designs from this era, although there is also the more typical influence of nature, with an abundance of biomorphic forms such as seaweed-inspired cast-iron ballustrades, mushroom lamps and such like.

Emile Gallé (1846-1904)

Founded of the Ecole de Nancy in 1901. He designed both glassware and furniture, and his glassware in particular is definitive of the Nancy school. French sites refer to his work as 'poetry in glass'.

Louis Majorelle (1859-1926)

Produced hand-made furniture, often using ornate inlaid timber marquetry.

Eugene Vallin (1856-1922)

Another Nancy designer of furniture with organic forms.

Paris School:

With the patronage of art dealer Samuel (Sigfried) Bing, the Paris school of Art Nouveau developed directly as a result of Hector Guimard's study with Victor Horta in Belgium. The similarities with Belgian Art Nouveau are therefore hardly surprising - for example, twisting organic forms directly inspired by nature. Paris took to Art Nouveau with a passion and even today it's often seen as the signature style of Paris.

Hector Guimard (1867-1942)

Architect Guimard visited Victor Horta in Belgium in 1894, bringing Art Nouveau to France when he returned. His first Art Nouveau building, and one of his great masterpieces was Castel Béranger, built in 1894-1898. He also designed the famous Metro station entrances in Paris, icons of Art Nouveau.

René Lalique (1860-1945)

Jeweller who used biomorphic forms such as dragonflies and floral motifs. Lalique also experimented with glass, combining this with his skill as a jeweller to create the world's first fine perfume bottles that could be mass produced. The first of these called L'Effleurt was produced for Coty Perfumes in 1908.

Lalique went on to become one of the foremost designers of the Art Deco era.

Georges De Feure (1868-1943)

Born in Holland with the name Georges Joseph Van Sluyters, this Symbolist painter and graphic designer later turned his hand to the decorative arts, making stained glass and furniture.

Eugene Gaillard (1862-1933)

Furniture designer typical of the Parisian school - plain, bold outlines and well balanced proportions in furniture made of fruitwoods.

Edward Colonna (1862-1948)

German-born designer whose works ranged from jewellery to furniture. He worked in Paris at the height of the Art Nouveau era and designed a drawing room for Samuel Bing, Patron of the Parisian Art Nouveau movement. He later moved to the US.

Art Nouveau in Belgium

In Belgium, Art Nouveau was predominantly an architectural style with the emphasis on functionality. Ceramics, jewellery, furniture and metalwork were also produced. Belgians claim Brussels to be the "Capital of Art Nouveau".
Google.com image search for Art Nouveau Belgium

Hire a limousine.. take a tour... Look what you can see in just four hours in Brussels!

Victor Horta (1861-1947)

Architect and designer who studied in Paris before returning to Brussels and designing furniture, buildings and fixtures inspired by nature. His work often features twining organic forms. Like the Arts & Crafts Movement in the United Kingdom, he also believed in hand-craftsmanship and using the very best materials available. His work was therefore very expensive and never mass-produced.

Gustave Serrurier-Bovy (1858-1910)

Designer who produced early, inexpensive "kit form" furniture. This furniture was known as his "Silex" range. members.tripod.com/russegold/pages/page_020.htm

Henri Clemens Van De Velde (1863-1957) - also spelled Henry Van De Velde

Designer who was important in the development of Art Nouveau, producing furniture, ceramics, jewellery and metalwork.

Art Nouveau in Spain

Art Nouveau in Spain was known as Modernismo.
Google.com image search for Art Nouveau Spain

We'll be watching a video on Gaudi called "Antonio Gaudi - To a Dancing God". Unfortunately it's a very old video, so apologies for the quality! I was very pleased to hear that this film's currently being remastered from the original archival stock and soon DVD versions will be available. The film was made by the Australian architect Theo Mathews - you might notice a little Gaudi influence in some of his contemporary work:

Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926) - also spelled Antoni Gaudi

"Nature is God's open book of knowledge from which all science can be drawn"

Architect and visionary. Gaudi was said to have been attempting to imitate Gothic design, but thankfully he pretty much failed in that intention and produced works that are startling in their innovation and creativity. His work is strange, compelling and almost surrealist in style, but also very functional. Some of his organic cave-like interiors were meticulously planned from an enginnering point of view, to the extent that different column supports are made of different materials in order to appropriately distribute the load of the ceiling & roof. He based these parabolic forms on designs from nature, such as the shape of tendons in the hand.

Gaudi was from the region of Catalonia, whose traditions are quite different to those of other parts of Spain and this is evident in his work - for example, in his use of very bright colours. Some of his building exteriors are covered completely in iridescent tiles.

He was more than a little eccentric, and apparently he died from being hit by a vehicle when he stepped back to look at his Sagrada Familia (which after 40 years was still a Work In Progress - "God is my client, and he's in no hurry"). He was so scruffily dressed and unwashed that his body laid unclaimed and unrecognised in the morgue for days even though he was, at the time, the most famous architect in Spain.

Gaudi is the only architect in the world to have THREE buildings with World Heritage Listing status: Güell Park and Palace, and Mila House (but interestingly, not his "Life's Work" of the Church of La Sagrada Familia).
Google Image Search for Gaudi
shibata.nu/gaudi/ - Japanese

Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949) - also called Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert

Student of Gaudi whose unusual architectural style, like Gaudi's, was deeply affected by his relationship with his native region of Catalonia. His designs were naturalistic and anti-geometric.

Art Nouveau in the USA

Some recommended links for Art Nouveau in the US:
Google.com image search for Art Nouveau US

Glassware, in particular lamps, are an important feature of Art Nouveau in the US. Domestic electricity was a new thing, and overhead lighting wasn't immediately taken on as the primary way to illuminate a room. Hence... lots and lots of lamps.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)

Painter, stained glass artist, glass artist & jewellery designer. Developed "Favrile" method of iridescent art-glass through experimentation with molten glass and metallic powders. His family founded "Tiffany & Co" jewellers, and for a period he was artistic director of the company. Dragonfly motifs and floral forms dominated in Tiffany art glass pieces of the Art Nouveau period.
Google Search for tiffany+glass

The Handel Company - "reverse-painted" lamps.

Quezal Art Glass & Decorating Co - the main feature of Quezal (also spelled Quetzal) glassware is the internal decoration, often formed by feathered striation (stripes) of differently coloured glass.

Another very significant aspect of Art Nouveau in the US was architecture. The development of high-rise commercial buildings was rapidly accelerated after the CBD of Chicago was destroyed by a great fire in 1871, and an entire commercial district had to be reconstructed as quickly and efficiently as possible. lib.niu.edu/ipo/iht419734.html

William LeBaron Jenney (1832-1907)

Jenney's inner steel frame allowed the development of high-rise buildings such as the later Chrysler Building. He is credited with designing the world's first "skyscraper" - the Home Insurance Building in 1885.
needham.k12.ma.us/high_school/cur/Baker_00/ 20
02_p5/Baker-p5-cm_cm/The Chrysler Building


Louis Sullivan (1856-1924)

Architect and developer of the large "Chicago Windows" that revolutionsed high-rise design and laid the foundation of skyscrapers. This type of architecture because known as Sullivanesque. He built the Wainwright Building, the Guaranty Building, the Carson, Pirie & Scott Store. His basic principal was that "form follows function" - organic unity.

Other members of the Chicago School of architecture included: H H Richardson: Marshall Field Store; Burnham & Root: Reliance Building, Monadnock Building.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

Probably the US's best-known architect of domestic dwellings. Although he was a unique individual, his career spanned and was influenced by a variety of styles. He's often included in US Arts & Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and also Art Deco (mentioned in more detail in that lecture). His earliest style, which fits into the time period of Art Nouveau, is his Prairie Style eg "Robie House" - low, horizontal lines reflecting landscape, geometric shapes, flowing interior space, ribbon windows, integration of house and surroundings, hearth at centre.

Frank Lloyd Wright also made furniture, such as the very modern looking modular chair to the left. modernclassics.com/wright.htm

Walter Burley Griffin (1876 -1937)

American architect dismissed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a mere 'draftsman', but who is also credited with developing the Prarie Style. He achieved more than mere houses, though. Along with his wife Marion, he won a competition to design Australia's capital city, Canberra, in 1912. pbs.org/wbgriffin/griffins.htm

When Australia became a Federation in 1901, a capital city had to be designated between rivals Sydney and Melbourne. How to choose? Aha! How about neither? Make a brand new city from scratch, half way between the two? And so, a competition was begun to find the plan for the ideal city to be the centre of government for our new country.

The surprise winner of that competition was the virtually unknown American architect, Walter Burley Griffin. The Griffins believed that architecture was more than mere buildings. Their spiritual beliefs, including Theosophy, are now thought to have influenced their design for the city to a large extent, although they kept very quiet about such influences at the time. Provincial, practical Australia was hardly likely to accept such ideas, especially in regards to the development of their capital city.

Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1962)

Worked for Frank Lloyd Wright for 14 years, taking over the completion of a number of important commissions FLW left behind when he abandoned his wife and children and ran off to Europe with a mistress. Mahoney then went to work for Walter Burley Griffin. At first they were just colleagues, but then it became more and they were married in 1911. They worked together on the submission of the winning competition entry for Canberra, and it's acknowledged that her beautiful drwings and impressive draftsmanship played an important role in the win. They collaborated for the remainder of their professional life together, and after Walter's death in 1937 she went on to concentrate on work as a town planner.

Contextual factors to consider:

  • The Victorian era was coming to a close and World War One was looming.

Some key technical innovations:

  • Electricity - appliances and lamps. It took a while for overhead electric light to become the most popular form of electric lighting. At first, lamps were the most common way for households to make use of the new phenomenon.
  • Further developments of Plastics, such as Casein (made from milk and formaldehyde).
  • Henry Ford develops mass production, the idea of a 'production line' (1913)
  • Load-bearing steel-frame buildings with "glass envelope" walls were the precursor to the Modernist "curtain wall" concept.

Meanwhile, in Fine Art:

  • Symbolism evolves into Expressionism
  • Impressionism and Post Impressionism evolve into Fauvism
  • Cubism begins - will evolve into Modernism.

Like Art Nouveau? Got a computer? You might want to download some free Art Nouveau style fonts: bibliofile.mc.duke.edu/gww/fonts/ArtNouveau.html

retrokat.com quite nice sites

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