Italian Liberty Style (1895-1914)

Liberty style influenced architecture, figurative arts, and applied arts. Its name referred to Arthur Liberty. The movement appeared during the First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin, in 1902.

Poster for the 1902 Turin Exposition by Leonardo Bistolfi (1902)

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How it All Started

The birth of this style was connected with Milan in the North of Italy where the most important office of this firm was located. After the International Exhibition in Turin in 1902 “ The Liberty Style Architecture” became a symbol of what will be named the Italian Art Nouveau. It was born in contrast with mass production and the standardization of goods, made with poor quality materials. The movement preferred craftsmanship and the artists felt the need to express their creativity.

Torino - Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur
Casa Fenoglio-Lafleur by Pietro Fenoglio (about 1902)

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

This Style Features

The most important characteristics of Italian Art Nouveau were:

  • Ornamental Style;
  • Sinuous and continuous lines;
  • Movement;
  • Aesthetic sophistication;
  • Attention to details;

In architecture and design, the materials employed were glass and wrought iron, in jewelry semiprecious stones and opals were included in paintings upon finished surfaces.

Milano - Casa Galimberti
Casa Galimberti in Milan by Giovanni Battista Bossi (1903–1905)

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

The Most Important Artists

Liberty Style in Italy developed thanks to many important figures as Giuseppe Sommaruga, Giuseppe Cominetti, Benvenuto Benvenuti, Ernesto Basile, Carlo Bugatti. Two of them marked the passage to the new art in a distinctive way.

Ernesto Basile, portrait.
Ernesto Basile, portrait.

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Ernesto Basile was a famous Sicilian architect, he was 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. He also designed the Villino Basile and the Villino Fassini, both in Palermo.

File:Villino Florio.jpg
Villino Florio in Palermo by Ernesto Basile (1899–1902)

Image source: by GiuseppeT

One of his best-known projects was his extension to Bernini‘s Montecitorio Palace in Rome, in an evident Renaissance style. After the 1914–18 war his architecture changed to more Classical elements.

File:Villino Florio (Palermo) 05.jpg
Villino Florio in Palermo by Ernesto Basile (1899–1902)

Image source: by Davide Mauro

Carlo Bugatti (1920).jpg
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)
Fauteuil de Carlo Bugatti,1890
Milan. (Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin)

Image source: by dalbera

Carlo Bugatti, chaise, 1902
Cobra Chair, Carlo Bugatti, 1902

Image source: by lartnouveauenfrance

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