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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

ART NOUVEAU-an experimental step towards modern architecture

Term Paper for History of Architecture (AP131)
Rashi Chugh Roll Number: 36 Sushant School of Art and Architecture

Art nouveau was a movement that swept through the decorative arts and architecture in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Generating enthusiasts throughout Europe and beyond, the movement issued in a wide variety of styles. Europe had a need for liberating change of direction. It occurred at the time when mass production started filling the marketplaces and architects, designers and artists began to understand the importance of handcrafted production. Art nouveau was aimed at modernizing design, seeking to escape the electrical historical styles that had previously been popular. Artists drew inspiration from both organic and geometric forms, evolving elegant designs that united flowering, natural forms with more angular contours. The style went out of fashion after it gave way to art deco in 1920s, but it experienced a popular revival in 1960s, and it is now seen as an important predecessor of modernism. (1). This style of art was characterized by a belief that all of life was art, and as a result, all of life should be treated as an art form. This flew in the face of classic art, which was reserved for the wealthy. This new art philosophy was the art of the people. (2) Art nouveau embraced all forms of art and design: architecture, furniture, glassware, graphic design, jewelry, painting, pottery, metalwork, and textiles. This was a sharp contrast to the traditional separation of art into the distinct categories of fine art (painting and sculpture) and applied arts (ceramics, furniture, and other practical objects). (3) The features of art nouveau movement are flowing Lines, violent Curves, organic Subject Matter, new Materials, resistance of Classical Restrictions. (2)

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

PAPER Heading 1
Art Nouveau style is a particular form of architecture, art and applied art that is based in organic beauty as opposed to classical, academic art. Art Nouveau gained popularity in 1890 and was heartily embraced until about 1905, when it fell out of favour. Art nouveau represents the beginning of modernism in design (Modern Architecture). It occurred at a time when mass-produced consumer goods began to fill the marketplace, and designers, architects, and artists began to understand that the handcrafted work of centuries past could be lost. While reclaiming this craft tradition, art nouveau designers simultaneously rejected traditional styles in favour of new, organic forms that emphasized humanity's connection to nature. (3) The Art Nouveau movement began with a poster created by Alfons Mucha for the play, Gismonda. The poster Mucha produced became very popular, and soon a new art style burst on the scene, inspired by Mucha's work. (2)

Figure 1: gismonda-poster-alphonse-mucha-1894 Ref:

As art nouveau designers erased the barrier between fine arts and applied arts, they applied good design to all aspects of living - from architecture to silverware to painting. In this integrated approach art nouveau had its deepest influence. A variety of ensuing movements continued to explore integrated design, including De Stijl, a Dutch design movement in the 1920s, and the German Bauhaus school in the 1920s and 1930s. Although the stylistic elements of art nouveau evolved into the simpler,
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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

streamlined forms of modernism, the fundamental art nouveau concept of a thoroughly integrated environment remains an important part of contemporary design. (3) By 1890s in Europe ,the supremacy of French Beaux-Arts and English Victorian styles were being challenged in places that were somewhat remote from the English and French fields of influence, namely in Spain (Antonio Gaudi),Scotland(Charles Rennie Mackintosh),Belgium(Hendrick Petrus Berlage),Austria(Otto Wagner and Joseph Hoffman)and Germany(Peter Behrens).In these places we can begin to see some of the sources of movement that later come to be known as modern architecture. So thus this gave birth to art nouveau that is new or modern art. In Belgium new style emerged known as ART NOUVEAU. Whereas the ARTS AND CRAFT MOVEMENT aimed to heal the rift between human and product, ART NOUVEAU was more interested in issues of creativity. Art nouveau basically introduced use of new materials. Art nouveau artists, however, tended to avoid heavy, neomedieval look of arts and craft, preferring organic shapes and plant like motifs. By the end of the century, art nouveau had drifted toward virtuosic display of form, complicated intermingling of materials, and an interlacing of structures and ornament. Art Nouveau artists were profoundly theoretical, seeking to answer questions about the nature of aesthetic production and its direct relevance for the individual and society. (4) Art nouveau flourished in a number of European countries, many of which developed their own names for the style. Art nouveau was known in France as style Guimard, after French designer Hector Guimard; in Italy as the stile floreale (floral style) or stile Liberty, after British art nouveau designer Arthur Lasenby Liberty; in Spain as modernisme; in Austria as Sezessionstil (secession style); and in Germany as Jugendstil (youth style). These diverse names reflect the widespread adoption of the movement, which had centers in major cities all over Europe - Paris and Nancy in France; Darmstadt and Munich in Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Glasgow, Scotland; Barcelona, Spain; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and Budapest, Hungary. Britain Britain

Art nouveau in Britain evolved out of the already established arts and crafts movement. Founded in 1861 by English designer William Morris, the arts and crafts movement emphasized the importance of handcrafted work. Morris's devotion to handmade articles was a reaction against shoddy machinemade products that were flooding the English marketplace as the industrial revolution expanded. The arts and crafts movement also promoted a totally designed environment in which everything from wallpaper to silverware is made according to a unified design. British art nouveau designers of the 1890s shared Morris's dedication to hand-crafted work and integrated designs. To these principles they added new forms and materials, establishing the aesthetic of the art nouveau style.

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

Figure2: Arthur Mackmurdo Chair

Ref: One of the earliest examples of art nouveau in England is a chair designed in 1882 by British architect Arthur Mackmurdo, which exhibits the curving lines associated with the style. Likewise, the fabric designs of Arthur Lasenby Liberty, who opened a shop called Liberty & Co. in 1875, also illustrate an interest in organic forms and curving, decorative patterns. In 1888 British designer Charles Ashbee established a workshop and school for artisans in London. Ashbee's furniture and metalwork designs reflect the more rectilinear (straight-lined or right-angled) version of art nouveau style. In the graphic arts, Aubrey Beardsley drew illustrations for periodicals such as The Yellow Book (1894-1895), and for an edition of the play Salom (1894) by Irish-born writer Oscar Wilde. Beardsley's vigorous use of line and distinctive double-curves known as whiplash lines have become equated with British art nouveau in the popular imagination. In Glasgow, Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh also developed a rectilinear version of art nouveau, which he employed in numerous buildings and their furnishings. In the Glasgow School of Art, completed in two phases (eastern section 1897-1899, western section 1906-1909), he used contemporary materials in an elegant, angular style. The simple shapes of the brick and stone exterior clearly indicate the division of space within the building, while large expanses of glass provide a strong visual connection between the interior spaces and the outside world. Window mullions (dividers between panes of glass), doors, and fences use ironwork in an elegant linear or geometric manner. This seemingly simple design offers a strong contrast to the ornate architecture based on past styles that was typical of the time.

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

Belgium and France

Art nouveau architecture in Brussels flourished in the work of Belgian designers Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde. As did Mackintosh in Glasgow, these Belgian designers sought to create a new style, free from the historical references of prevailing traditions. They utilized standard wrought-iron and cast-iron technology, but employed it to create distinctly new forms. In the Htel Tassel in Brussels (1892-1893), Horta not only revealed the structural column that supports the second floor, but transformed its cast-iron form into a plantlike stem that terminates in a burst of intertwined tendrils as it connects with other structural elements. The door handled by Victor Horta loops in and around itself,like a hardened piece of liquorice candy, one strand of which springs out into space to almost accidently form a handle. Victor Horta (1861-1947), active in Belgium was probably the greatest of Art Nouveau architects. In Masion Tassel (1893), Horta brought out the expensive quality of iron, which he used both inside and outside of the house, in form of weightless ribbons, spiralling and twisting into space. Horta rejected the standard Brussels building type, with the staircase to one side of the building. Instead, the staircase, combined with the light well, is placed at the centre. Also the use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of space, make the interior seem a world unto itself, a sanctuary from outside life. (5)



Figure 3: Staircase Of Maison Tassel Hotel

Figure 4: Front Elevation Of Maison Tassel

Ref: Ref:

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

Similarly, French designer Hector Guimard designed entrances for the Metro stations in Paris (18981901) using simple metal and glass forms decorated with curvilinear wrought iron. These are especially memorable examples of art nouveau's delightfully curving naturalistic forms. An interest in organic forms is also found in the work of French glass designer mile Gall. Working from his hometown of Nancy, Gall produced a variety of glassware decorated with leaves, vines, and flowers. He fused layers of different colored glass and then cut designs into the glass to reveal the color he wanted, a technique that also added greater depth to the design.

Simple Metal and Glass Forms Decorated with Curvilinear Wrought iron

Figure5: Metro Station by Guimard Ref :

Alphonse Mucha made similar contributions to the development of art nouveau poster design. Born in Czechoslovakia, Mucha worked in Paris as a graphic artist and interior designer. His posters epitomize art nouveau graphic design with their elaborately stylized natural forms, fluid curving lines, and rich colors.

Germany and Austria

Art nouveau took hold in a number of German-speaking cities, the most prominent of which were Munich, Darmstadt, and Weimar in Germany, and Vienna in Austria. Known as Jugendstil (German for youth style), art nouveau was promoted in Munich through periodicals such as Die Jugend (The Youth). At the head of Munich's Jugendstil movement was Hermann Obrist, a Swiss designer who created a sensation with an exhibition of his embroidery in 1896. Not only did this exhibit challenge the
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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

separation between fine and applied arts, but it also introduced the Munich public to the lively organic forms of art nouveau. Obrist's designs, although based on natural forms, often evolved into mysterious shapes that suggest a fantasy world. The work of German architect August Endell shares this visionary quality. Endell sought to create intense, dynamic forms that would evoke a strong response in the viewer. His plaster relief sculpture for the exterior of Munich's Elvira Photo Studio (1896-1897) does just that. Part dragon, part flying sea creature, part tidal wave, the theatrical relief expands the organic forms of art nouveau into the realm of visionary fantasy. Stylistic trends in Vienna took a significantly different direction. Led by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, young artists and architects formed a group called theWiener Sezession, or Vienna Secession, in protest against the entrenched conservatism of the art establishment in Vienna. As did their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, Secession designers rejected historical styles; but in Vienna they expressed this through an increasing simplification of form. Rather than embracing the writhing organic forms of Endell or Obrist in Munich, Viennese artists moved towards the restrained geometric designs exemplified by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A case in point is the Palais Stoclet (1905-1911) in Brussels, designed by Viennese architect Josef Hoffmann. This residence summarizes succinctly what had become known in Vienna as Sezessionstil (secession style). Hoffmann utilized traditional building materials - marble, glass, and bronze - but arranged the building around an unconventional, asymmetrical entrance. Outlining the sober marble exterior walls are delicate bronze latticework and edging, which suggest an almost playful quality. There is no historical reference here, only an elegant, simplified form. Spain

The art nouveau movement in Spain is best exemplified in the work of Barcelona architect Antoni Gaud y Cornet, whose designs represent a highly personal response to the art nouveau ideas of his time. Gaud created one of his most eccentric works in the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family, begun in 1883, construction ongoing) in Barcelona. Dominated by four disproportionately tall spires, the church appears to be a fantastical outgrowth of the earth. Floral designs cover the building faade, and broken tiles glitter on the rippling surface of the towers. In his Casa Mil apartment complex (1905-1907, Barcelona), Gaud created the illusion of a limestone reef hollowed out by centuries of seawater. Although the entire complex was executed in cut stone, there is not one straight line in the faade. (3) Art Nouveau is an ornamental style based on curved lines, asymmetrical composition and rhythms of irregular contours. Its main motifs are nature, references to antiquity and mythology. Architecturally, art nouveau is characterised by the functional structure and a richly decorated faade, achieved by deploying all the possible means of expression in building, from the shape of window and door
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openings, bay windows, to reliefs, sculptures, ornamental lines or areas and stained glass. However, the main building facade is not the only essential element in Art Nouveau, but rather its overall image, therefore, art nouveau architecture also refers to interior design, the shape of tableware and even the inhabitants wardrobe Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926), despite his obvious talent, was not a particularly good student at school of architecture at Barcelona. The academic styles and rationalization of construction did not appeal to him. He preferred the story of history and economy. After a period in which he apperanticed with various local architects he sets out on his own. One of the characteristics of his work apart from his unusual genius for space and light, was the delight he took in color. His architecture, more than any produced in the 20th century has to be seen to be appreciated. Le Corbusier and Frank Loyd Wright were consummate colorist, but for Wright color was a question of patina, whereas for le Corbusier color was question of spatial articulation. For Gaudi , color was thoroughly tactile in nature and could be linked. Gaudi used colored stone and glass, polychrome glazes, broken tiles and plates, and exploited the shadings of stone and brick. (5)


Figure8: Elevation of Casa Batllo


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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013



Figure6: Casa Mila Front Elevation Ref:

Figure7: Courtyard For Light And Ventilation ref:

United States

In the United States, art nouveau evolved naturally from the craft tradition of the early 19th century. American furniture, glass, metalwork, and jewelry had long been adapted from European models. Travel between the United States and Europe fostered a continuous exchange of ideas, and by the 1890s American designers were making significant contributions to art nouveau ceramics, glassware, and architecture. International expositions in the United States not only highlighted American products but also attracted European visitors who were curious about design trends emerging in this new marketplace. Foremost among American art nouveau innovators were Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Tiffany Studios of New York City. Rookwood was well established by the 1890s, producing a wide range of elegant pottery decorated with softly colored natural forms. The glassware of Louis Comfort Tiffany probably constitutes the best-known American examples of art nouveau design. Using his patented Favrile glass (iridescent glass produced by exposing hot glass to metallic fumes), Tiffany designed stained glass windows, lamps, and a variety of other glass objects. The intense color, fluid organic forms, and innovative techniques incorporated in his designs positioned Tiffany as a leader in international art nouveau design. American architect Louis Sullivan also played an influential role in the creation of a new design vocabulary. Although Sullivan is most recognized for his development of the skyscraper, he also produced inventive art nouveau motifs for the ornamental detailing on the Wainwright Building (1890-1891, St Louis, Missouri), Guaranty Building (1894-1895, Buffalo, New York), Carson Pirie Scott department store (1899-1904, Chicago, Illinois), and other structures. Whether in wrought iron or terra cotta, Sullivan's ornamentation is based on plantlike forms and patterns of complex, interlocking lines. (3)

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

1. [Online] 2. [Online] 3. [Online] 4. D.K.Ching, Francis. A Global History of Architecture. s.l. : John Wiley &Sons,Inc., 2007. 5. Trachtenberg, Marvin. Architecture from prehistory to post modernism/the western tradition. Britain : academy edition 7 holland street, london w8, 1986. 6. [Online] 7. [Online] 8. [Online] 9. M.Tafuri. Modern Architecture1. London : faber and faber/Electa, 1980.

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