How Did Art Nouveau Influence Art And Design In The Late 1800s?

1200 words - 5 pages

Art Nouveau (literally ‘new art’ in French) was a popular international style of art, developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and reaching its peak between 1890 and 1910. The primary aim of this movement was to break free from the previous constraints that had been placed upon artists traditionally and to completely revolutionise design – an aim that, without a doubt, came to be achieved. The evidence of this can be seen in the work of several prominent designers at the time – such as artist Alphonse Mucha and architect Antoni Gaudi – and even within other movements – the Arts and Crafts movement being a prime example. The way in which these figures and this movement have been ...view middle of the document...

Working primarily in printmaking and designing posters, Alphonse Mucha’s work channelled many of the typical characteristics of Art Nouveau. This is especially in the case of his posters, which – more often than not – involved beautiful young women as the main focus. These women – embodying the very idea of elegance and poise – were drawn using the graceful and sinuous lines that make Art Nouveau so distinct, with curvilinear lines being used predominantly in their hair and clothing. These lines suggest the movement of the figures, as well as enhancing their soft and feminine characteristics. Nature is also used frequently within his work, primarily as a background to the focal figure; lush flowers often form halos behind the heads of the women, and the line work of his borders is reminiscent of the flowing nature of vines. Colour-wise, Mucha tends to use many of the hues that are prevalent in nature, including (but not limited to) greens, blues, oranges and reds. In terms of value, he most often uses subtle and light – almost pastel – colours that are not bright in the least. These colour choices serve to reinforce the soft nature of his female subjects, and allows his art to have a nostalgic feel to it. Mucha’s work has been heavily influenced by the work of Hans Makart, Eugene-Samuel Grasset and – significantly – the Pre-Raphaelites. This fact allows for a close bond with the Nouveau movement, which was also influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. Interestingly, despite the distinct Nouveau characteristics of his art, Alphonse Mucha himself denied any direct links with the movement, stating that ‘art is eternal, it cannot be new’.
Antoni Gaudi is one of the most significant and prominent Art Nouveau architects to have lived. The buildings he has designed are beyond style or classification. Rather, they are highly imaginative works that find much of their inspiration from the natural world. This is, of course, a significant characteristic of Art Nouveau. His use of nature as a subject ranges from animals (such as the salamander in Park Guell – a well-known symbol of Gaudi’s work) to plants. Even his use of colour suggests and implies the idea of nature, as in the Casa Batllo; though no plants or organic forms have been used directly in the design, the blue, green and brown mosaic on its exterior is highly suggestive of it. This, combined with the flowing lines of the balconies and the colours in the stained glass, allow the building to have a very heavy overall focus on nature. Even in the Sagrada Familia this focus is made...

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