Italian Liberty Style (1895-1914)

Italian Liberty Style influenced architecture, figurative arts, and applied arts. The movement appeared during the First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin.

Poster for the 1902 Turin Exposition by Leonardo Bistolfi (1902): Four woman dressed in flowing white gowns dancing around in a field.
Poster for the 1902 Turin Exposition by Leonardo Bistolfi (1902)

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How it Started

After the International Exhibition in Turin in 1902, the Italian Liberty Style Architecture became a symbol of what will be named the Italian Art Nouveau. Initially, the style formed to contrast mass production and standardization of goods made with poor quality materials. Further, the movement preferred craftsmanship and creativity.

Torino - Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur: A large light-colored building with ornamental windows and a central, corner tower.
Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur (about 1902) by Pietro Fenoglio

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

This Style Features

Features of the Style

The most important characteristics of Italian Art Nouveau:

  • Ornamental Style
  • Sinuous and continuous lines
  • Movement
  • Aesthetic sophistication
  • Attention to details
Milano - Casa Galimberti: A large building with four floors and elaborate windows all with metal balconies.
Casa Galimberti (1903–1905) by Giovanni Battista Bossi

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

Important Artists

Liberty Style in Italy developed to important figures such as Giuseppe Sommaruga, Giuseppe Cominetti, Benvenuto Benvenuti, Ernesto Basile and Carlo Bugatti. They marked the new art in a distinctive way.

Ernesto Basile, portrait in black and white. He is depicted with a monocle, and a long, dark beard. Moreover, the photo is very grainy.
Ernesto Basile, portrait.

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Ernesto Basile was a famous Sicilian architect and one of the main designers of the Liberty Style. His elegantly basic Art Nouveau architecture is perhaps best represented by the Villino Florio and the Utveggio House in Palermo. Also, he designed the Villino Basile and the Villino Fassini, both in Palermo.

Villino Florio in Palermo, one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in Architecture.
Villino Florio in Palermo (1899–1902) by Ernesto Basile

Image source: by GiuseppeT

One of his best-known projects was his extension to Bernini‘s Montecitorio Palace in Rome, an evident example of Renaissance style. After the war ending in 1918, his architecture changed to include more Classical elements.

Villino Florio in Palermo (1899–1902) by Ernesto Basile: Interior with light wood trip and large arched windows. Moreover, there is light green wallpaper.
Villino Florio in Palermo (1899–1902) by Ernesto Basile

Image source: by Davide Mauro

Carlo Bugatti photo in a collared sweater.
Carlo Bugatti (1920)

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Carlo Bugatti was one of Italy’s most important and disruptive designers. Despite falling out of fashion for a little time, his work has recently been recalled thanks to a strong revival. Typical of the first phase of his style, he used heavy, ebonized wood adorned with copper, brass, ivory, or other precious materials decorated with animal or insect patterns. Influenced by Moorish, Japanese, and primitive art, his pieces of furniture were unique, even theatrical.

Fauteuil de Carlo Bugatti (Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin): A dark wood chair with a light back and seat. Moreover, tassels dangle from the bottom of the back and the front of the seat.
Fauteuil de Carlo Bugatti (1890)

Image source: by dalbera

Cobra Chair (1902) by Carlo Bugatti: An abstract seat with light wood
Cobra Chair (1902) by Carlo Bugatti

Image source: by lartnouveauenfrance

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