Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

What is Art Nouveau?

File:Art nouveau, Donostia-San Sebastian (3).jpg

Art Nouveau window in Donostia-San Sebastián.

Art Nouveau is an ornamental style of art that started in Europe and flourished in both Europe and the United Sates in the years between 1890 to the First World War. It is characterized by intricate designs and flowing curves based on natural forms. Some of the most famous artists from the era have disparate styles including Louis Comfort Tiffany, Antoni Gaudi, and Alphonse Mucha. Viewed as the first self - conscious attempt to create modern style, this art form allowed its practitioners and admirers to break away from past styles, artistic traditions and critical expectations. Its influence can be found in Graphic Arts, Architecture, Interior Design and Decorative Arts that include – Furniture, Jewelry and Lighting.  

History of Art Nouveau 

Art Nouveau is a style that started in France and eventually swept off the whole of Europe. It not only left a great impact on visual art, but even impacted the fields of architecture, interior designs, households and jewelry. They developed a dynamic, vital and organic form of art. Back in the 19th century, artists were getting tired of old naturalistic formulas. Art had become copy paste and creative minds were looking for something new, sensational and alluring. An anti-historical attitude became the biggest movement among artists. That is when Art Nouveau movement became the inspiration for the new generation who were fed up with intellectual persona of art.  

Alphonse Mucha - The Father of Art Nouveau Paintings 

Through bold posters, Alphonse Mucha reached incredible numbers of the general public. His hallmark became idealized, stylized and immensely graceful.  He was inspired from the works of many illustrators. His signature style was heavily ornamented frames, flowing lines with floral decoration and such. 

The rise of unity with Art Nouveau Architecture 

Art Nouveau Architecture had become the strongest way to unify the people of France. The Government had set up the Congress of Decorative Arts, where government museums, leaders, luxury artisans and art critics had discussed programs for the applied arts. International expos had started being organized around Europe. The feeling of oneness was not only rising with countries, but in fact the whole of Europe had come together to feel proud of new designs and then share them with one another.  

Art Nouveau Architecture - The breath of fresh air 

Art Nouveau Architecture had lasted for only a century but it was definitely a remarkable step in both design and style. It was a breath of fresh air and will be remembered as a new, avant-garde approach to design. Art Nouveau was born out of artistic and social restlessness, inspired by the politics, technology and economy of its time. It breaks free the strict regiments of academic art and expresses a different kind of organic reality.  

Extinction of Art Nouveau Paintings 

After 1910, Art Nouveau Architecture was perceived as old-fashioned and was generally abandoned as a distinctive decorative style. It was further replaced by the Art Deco style. Although, the style was further rehabilitated by the major exhibitions organized at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1959) and also at the Musee National d’Art Moderne (1960). These exhibitions contributed towards elevating the status of the Art Nouveau movement. The flowery organic lines of Art Nouveau were revived as a new psychedelic style in typography and fashion.   

Stunning Art Nouveau Architecture across the World 

Art Nouveau Architecture is a popular art across the World. The Art Nouveau buildings are decorated using custom furnishings, exquisite materials and hand painted wall treatments. The Art Nouveau Architecture also became popular due to their organic - inspired designs which included colored finishes and iron glass - work interiors.  

Here is a look at some of the most beautiful buildings of Art Nouveau Architecture: 

  1. CasaBatllo, Barcelona

Antoni Gaudi had taken his exuberant take on Art Nouveau to Barcelona that created many of the city’s architectural landmarks. Located on the Passeig de Gracia, it possesses some of the best-known works and features. The exterior of such architecture is mostly sheathed in colorful pieces of broken ceramics, whereas the roof is covered in scale-like tiles.  

  1. The Old England Building, Brussels

Designed by the Architect Paul Saintenoy, the Old England building is constructed in 1898-99 and is one of the Art Nouveau gems. The former department store now consists of Museum of Musical Instruments (MIM) founded in 1877, which is a part of the group of Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH.) 

  1. The Secession Building, Vienna

Designed by Architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, the Succession Building is one of the more magnificent works of Art Nouveau. Its unique white cubic building has been constructed as an exhibition hall for the designers and artists of the Secessionist movement. This building was opened in the year 1898. It is topped with a distinctive dome of gilt wrought-iron laurel leaves. 

  1. Majolikahausof Otto Wagner, Vienna 

During 20th century, Architect Otto Wagner played a pivotal role in the reinvention of Vienna. One of his most beloved works is the Majolikahaus apartment building, an amazing Art Nouveau Architecture. It was completed and opened in 1898 and has been decorated with vibrant floral motifs. 

  1. Glasgow School of Art, Scotland

Glasgow School of Art is one of the Scottish Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most important buildings. Mackintosh blended Art Nouveau and traditional Scottish influences were completed in two phases. The second phase included the well-furnished library and was finished in 1910. 

  1. lbertStreet, Riga 

Designed by one the prolific designers - Russian-born Mikhail Osipovich Eisenstein, Ibert Streets is one of the highly ornamented apartment buildings. It is one of the best wonders of Art Nouveau buildings. 

  1. AgoudasHakehilos Synagogue, Paris 

Best known for the ironwork entrances to the city’s Métr, Hector Guimard has been one of the preeminent practitioners of Art Nouveau in Paris. A marvelous piece of his art is Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue which is located in the Marais district, Paris in the year 1913 and has an exterior motif inspired by the Ten Commandments. 


1. When and where did Art Nouveau Architecture flourish? 

- Art Nouveau, ornamental style of art flourished between 1890 to 1910 throughout Europe and USA. 

2. What are the distinctive characteristics of Art Nouveau? 

- Art Nouveau is recognized by natural shapes, curves and linear approach to its intricate details.  

3. Who have been the most famous Art Nouveau furniture designers? 

- Josef Hoffmann and Edward Colonna have been the most spectacular Art Nouveau furniture designers.