Art Nouveau / Jugendstil (1890-1914)

The Art Nouveau style generated support in graphic art and architecture all over the world, appearing in several trends such as Jugendstil in Germany.

Zodiaque or La Plume (ca. 1896–1897) by Alphonse Maria Mucha. Original from The Art Institute of Chicago. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.
Zodiaque or La Plume (1896–1897) by Alphonse Maria Mucha

Image source:  by Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel

La Samaritaine (1897) by Alphonse Maria Mucha. Original from The Art Institute of Chicago. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel
La Samaritaine (1897) by Alphonse Maria Mucha

Image source: by Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel

Art Nouveau Architecture in the World

The Art Nouveau architecture shaped the identity of many cities all over Europe, because of its size and signature appearance. Thus, it is still visible today in buildings, houses, and commercial structures.

Hotel Tassel: a large light stone structure with 4 floors, and rectangular windows.
Hotel Tassel, Brussels.

Image source: by RightIndex

Victor Horta, for example, designed Hotel Tassel and the Maison du Peuple, both located in Brussels. The Hotel Tassel, often considered the first Art Nouveau building, is a townhouse created for one of Horta’s usual professional clients in the 1890s. In the structure, Horta combines themes of nature and industry in an interesting way.

Black and white photo of the Maison du Peuple of the P.O.B. (Belgian Workers Party) (destroyed, Brussels).
Maison du Peuple, Brussels

Images source: by Victor Horta

The main achievement of Horta’s career is the Maison du Peuple, which is the headquarters of the Belgian Workers’ Party. The structure is referred to as a temple of Socialism, as similar structures can be found in many European countries and were useful in various communal functions for working-class citizens.

In France, the state approved Art Nouveau-style architecture when Guimard designed the Paris Metro stations to fuse iron and glass and to resemble large bean shoots and seed-pods. Hector Guimard approved Horta’s work in Brussels trying to extend its radical disruption of architectural behavior. Further, his work also shaped Montreal’s metro stations entrances.

Entrance to the Porte Dauphine metro station (by Hector Guimard): A peculiar structure with various large and decorative features.
Entrance to the Porte Dauphine metro station (1898-1905)

Image source: by dalbera

In America, one of the first skyscrapers built in the world, the Wainwright Building, by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler can be considered a prototype of the modern office. The Guaranty Building, which opened in 1896, is one of Sullivan’s masterpieces and is an extraordinary example of innovation. In the 1890s, a steel skeleton skyscraper was unknown, new, and unique. Further, man early skyscrapers were heavily influenced by traditional European designs.

The Wainwright Building, which is a red-brick square building with rectangular windows.
Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler

Image source: by Reading Tom

Art Nouveau Characteristics

This style creates contrast in a world of art dominated by the rigor and geometry of Neoclassical patterns. Further, it sought a new graphic design language, as far away as possible from classical models designed by the arts academies. Here are the main features of Art Nouveau:

  • Extreme Curves inspired by nature
  • Images of flowers, plants, birds or insects and carvings
  • Patterns of Curving Lines
  • Use of symbols
Chair with an abstract back, possibly depicting flowers or plants.
Chair designed by Arthur Mackmurdo (1882-1883)

Image source: by

Jugendstil and its Artists

The Jugendstil movement, founded by many new publications, addressed fine and applied arts, such as Pan and Die Jugend. Jugendstil has two phases: an early period before 1900, which is principally floral, and a later, more abstract phase, coming out of the Viennese works of Henry van de Velde. Here are the most famous artists:

ECKMANN, Otto. Jugend cover, 1896: A drawing of a woman with dark hair and a flower crown. There are bright red flowers in the background as well.
Cover of Jugend by Otto Eckmann (1896)

Image source: by Halloween HJB

  • Otto Eckmann: A designer who created the Eckmann typeface, based on Japanese calligraphy. Further, he created the swan used as the leitmotif.
  • Richard Riemerschmid: Designer of the factory for Hellerau (now part of Dresden), and he is particularly for his houses.
  • Hermann Obrist: Studied natural sciences before becoming an artist and moving to the Kunstgewerbeschule to become an important sculptor. Further, he is known for his wall-hanging Cyclamen.
1896 edition cover of Jugend with two figures, one of which is playing an instrument.
1896 edition cover of Jugend

Image source: by Halloween HJB

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