Hector Guimard was one of the most famous French architects and designers. His name is inextricably linked with the Art Nouveau style and his works are widely known.
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About his life
Hector-German Guimard was born in Lyon on May 25, 1867; in 1882 he began his training at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris directed by Louvier de Lajolais, continuing his studies in 1885 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. Four years later he participated in the Universal Exposition with a commission for the Electricity Pavilion. Hector drew inspiration from some of the new architectural theories of the late 1800s. His designs were influenced by the radical ideas of the French architect Viollet-le-Duc and the sinuous architecture of the Belgian Victor Horta. Under their influence, Guimard created several exceptional avant-garde works. In 1895, after visiting the first Art Nouveau building, the Hotel Tassel by Victor Horta in Brussels, Guimard completely redefined his artistic approach.
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What were his major works?
- Castel Beranger. From 1894 to 1898, following his discovery of Horta‘s Tassel Hotel, Guimard made radical changes to the project. First he planned to design it in Gothic style, but after it became one of the first Art Nouveau structures outside Belgium. He made it dynamic, through the use of projections and indentations. The structure is embellished by the highly innovative matching of materials like hammered iron, brick, stone and ceramics, while a refined naturalistic decoration fills the interior with exuberant, curvilinear plant motifs.
- Entrances of Paris Metro were designed and created in 1898 to 1905. Guimard’s amazing metal Art Nouveau designs (c.1899-1901), with their flowing lines and floral shapes, shocked Parisians, who thought his use of iron far too Germanic. As a result, most of his metro station entrances, including all of the large ones, were later demolished.
- Hotel Guimard is a luxury residence known designed from 1909 to 1912. Guimard designed most of the interior objects and fixtures himself as well as a number of unique items of furniture, which were considered to be integral parts of the structure.
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The entrances of the metro in Paris
At the end of the 19th century, a competition was launched for the construction of 3 works: a standard stand, a stand for the Bastille stop, and one for the Etoile stop. So it was that the choice fell on Hector Guimard, architect, already known for the art-nouveau building Castel Beranger. Guimard chose cast iron, a “new material”, cheap and easy to model, so much so that these works were one of the first examples of mass production in architecture, and perhaps for this reason Guimard became one of the first architect-designers.
The “font” of the METROPOLITAIN writing was also created by Guimard. Green iron and elegant letters that are irrevocably associated with the entire visual brand of the metro system.
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How can we identify Guimard’s style?
The main claim of the current of Art Nouveau, of which Hector Guimard is one of the most important French exponents, is the unity of architecture, furnishings and layout of the rooms. The decorative object or piece of furniture must not remain isolated in a room but, on the contrary, must be perfectly integrated with the style of the entire home. Work of Guimard is easy to distinguish among the other practitioners of the Art Nouveau style. His projects are characterized by plastic, abstract, and sometimes bizarre plant and floral images in iron, glass and carved stone, which usually twist and bend into irregular and asymmetrical shapes.
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