Art Nouveau / Jugendstil (1890-1914)

Art Nouveau generated supporters in graphic arts 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 (ca. 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

Art Nouveau architecture was used in many important in shaping the identity of many cities all over Europe, because of its size and appearance. It is still visible today in buildings and houses or great institutional and commercial structures.

Hotel Tassel
Hotel Tassel, Brussels.

Image source: by RightIndex

Victor Horta, for example, designed Hotel Tassel, and the Maison du Peuple, in Brussels. The Hotel Tassel is often considered the first Art Nouveau building. This townhouse was projected for one of his usual professional clients from the 1890s. Here Horta combined the twin themes of nature and industry in an interesting way.

File:Maison du Peuple of the P.O.B. (Belgian Workers Party) (destroyed, Brussels), exterior 3.jpg
Maison du Peuple, Brussels.

Images source: by Victor Horta

The main achievement of Horta’s career was the Maison du Peuple in Brussels, the new headquarters of the Belgian Workers’ Party. It was in several ways a temple of Socialism, as the Maison du Peuple was a structure that could be found in many European countries. Maisons du Peuple was useful in various communal functions for working-class citizens.

In France, Art Nouveau-style of nineteenth-century architecture was officially approved by the State when Guimard worked at the Paris Metro stations creating elaborate fusions of iron and glass to recall large bean shoots and seed-pods. Hector Guimard approved Horta’s work in Brussels trying to extend its radical disruption in architectural behaviors and tastes. His works were useful in shaping Montreal’s metro stations entrances.

La station art nouveau de la porte Dauphine (Hector Guimard)
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. Many early skyscrapers were heavily influenced by traditional European designs.

The Wainwright Building
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. 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 LACMA M.2009.115 (5 of 5)
Chair designed by Arthur Mackmurdo (1882-1883)

Image source: by

Jugendstil and its Artists

The Jugendstil movement was founded by many new publications addressing both fine and applied arts, such as Pan and Die Jugend. Jugendstil lived two phases: an early one, before 1900, 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.
Cover of Jugend by Otto Eckmann (1896)

Image source: by Halloween HJB

  • Otto Eckmann was a designer, who created the Eckmann typeface, based on Japanese calligraphy. His influence on the German movement was the swan used as the leitmotif.
  • Richard Riemerschmid designed the factory for Hellerau (now part of Dresden). As an architect, he is known particularly for his houses.
  • Hermann Obrist studied natural sciences but becoming an artist moved to the Kunstgewerbeschule to become an important sculptor, known for his wall-hanging Cyclamen.
1896 edition cover of Jugend.
1896 edition cover of Jugend.

Image source: by Halloween HJB

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