Art and culture can be an inspiration and should be intertwined with our everyday life. This was the main thought of the famous Art Nouveau style. Let’s take a closer look at this idea of the 20th-century movement.
This style has many names and even more expressive means. It was at the forefront of commercial design and was the most influential art movement of the early 20th century. Art Nouveau still lives in flowing floral lines on the signs of the Paris metro, in fabulous images from the paintings of Alphonse Mucha and Gustav Klimt, so popular that today they are “printed” even on socks, in fantasy decor that weaves the facades of buildings in large cities of Europe and America. Even in the halls of the elves from the movie "The Lord of the Rings". Is there a place for Art Nouveau in modern interiors?
New time - new style
Don't let the French name fool you, the historical birthplace of Art Nouveau is England. There, this style is known as "modern style" (new style). Despite the novelty, its origins can be found back in the Victorian era, but, unlike the Victorian style, Art Nouveau did not tolerate eclecticism and tried to achieve visual and symbolic unity of expressive means.
Originating in the 1880s, Art Nouveau quickly spread its winding branches around the world, bringing together artists and architects at war with eclecticism and the industrial age, seeking new means to revive artistic harmony, romanticism, and symbolism. Real aesthetic rebellion!
The goal of the new art was ambitious - to completely transform everyday life, increase the aesthetic value of ordinary objects, and involve all spheres of human activity in the world of beauty.
Art Nouveau really managed to grow roots in the reality of the end of the century, if it was lined with architecture or decorative arts: interiors, furniture, metro stations, jewelry, ceramics, theater posters, book illustrations, art exhibitions - new art was everywhere. Modern style broke norms, despised boundaries, invented its own geometry and mythology, became a symbol of the era and new opportunities.
Buildings in the Art Nouveau style could take on familiar geometric shapes, declaring their belonging to Art Nouveau due to new motifs in the decoration of the facades. But the house inside did not obey the architectural design, turning into a fluid, smooth space with winding ceilings, stairs, and arched openings.
As a leading trend in art, Art Nouveau lasted until the outbreak of the First World War, and became the starting point for Art Deco, which came to replace it.
Flora and fauna
Art Nouveau was interested in new technologies and materials, but at the same time struggled with the factory and mechanical reality. The new style looked for inspiration in nature, spoke the language of abstract, living forms and smooth plant lines.
The animal and plant decorative world of Art Nouveau is rich and beautiful: irises and lilies, ivy and grapes, thin swan necks and peacock tails, dragonflies and butterflies with stained-glass wings. And in the midst of all this splendor, there is a maiden in flowing folds of clothing. You saw such girls in Mukha's paintings. The image of a beautiful maiden, arriving in harmony with nature, has become one of the leading motifs of the new art.
Art Nouveau furniture also strives to emulate the world of plants. In a minimalistic interpretation, it adopts only smooth lines from nature, but when nothing limits the designer’s imagination, it turns into a “live” interweaving of branches, stems, and inflorescences. You can find such modern furniture online.
The smooth floral line of Art Nouveau is present everywhere: in the curves of furniture backs and legs, in the wrought-iron railings of flowing stairs, in the ceilings overgrown with stucco, in painting and carving, in ornaments on textiles, in stained-glass windows, even doors’ fittings and keyholes.
The dynamic viscous line of art nouveau is called the "blow of the scourge". In addition to plant associations, it sends the imagination to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Gothic cathedrals, turning them into magical symbols. It is not surprising that Art Nouveau was chosen for the interiors of The Lord of the Rings: its decorative scope can be seen in the elven residence and individual elements in the interior of the hobbit’s house.
Art Nouveau can be different
In America Art Nouveau was known as Tiffany, in Germany it was known as Jugendstil, the Austrians called it Secession, the Italians called it Liberty, and the Spaniards called it Modernism. The most popular throughout the rest of the world are French and British names. And if everything is obvious with Art Nouveau, then confusion often arises with the word "modern". Since "modern" is translated as "new", modern interiors sometimes fall under this definition. Often, everything “that is not classic” is called modern.
Searching for a "modern style kitchen" will give you photos of minimalist functional kitchens.
Once these were interiors in natural tones, saturated with natural precious wood, spectacular reliefs, and fairy-tale motifs. Nowadays these are mostly individual elements that designers combine with other styles. Art Nouveau at one time struggled with eclecticism in interiors, but we have returned to it again.
Recognizable wallpaper ornaments, stylistic stained glass lamps, moldings with smooth lines, and floral motifs will be guides to the past. If you want more stylization, you can add a poster or a reproduction with a beautiful maiden, decorate interior doors with stained-glass transoms, and pick up soft, streamlined furniture. Extreme solution: change the geometry of the room with drywall constructions.
Art Nouveau is a kind of philosophy, the conviction that life can and should be beautiful in all its manifestations, including armchairs. Let’s agree, the message is quite worthy.