In 1890, the Art Nouveau movement began to achieve a synthesis of art forms. It primarily abandoned the popular classical and historical styles for many centuries. Inspired by natural elements, Art Nouveau masterpieces depicted harmonious and unifying designs that drew inspiration from various disciplines.
From its sinuous lines, vibrant colors, and clarity of structure, the Art Nouveau movement launched a new era of art. The concept was translated into paintings and in different mediums, including sculpture, glass art, and architecture, among many others. Let’s look at some brilliant artists who defined the movement and made it one of the most striking art innovations of the 19th century.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Characterized by hyperbolas and parabolas, Art Nouveau relied on significantly reducing natural forms. Being the epicenter of the French art world, Paris showcased the finest examples of Art Nouveau painting, architecture, and design. The brilliant French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec expertly combined the elements of sophistication and fine art with advertisement, resulting in theatrical posters that succeeded in luring spectators and visitors to many of the city’s nightclubs and entertainment centers. His highly unique posters were the perfect contrast to the strict regulations imposed on buildings designed and constructed by Georges-Euegene Haussman, the man who made Paris.
Louis Comfort Tiffany
One of the greatest artists of the Art Nouveau style, Louis Comfort Tiffany, was the son of the renowned jeweler Charles Lewis Tiffany. He was inspired by the stunning glassworks of French Art Nouveau designer Emile Gallen at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. Upon returning to the United States, he focused his interest on blown glass. He succeeded in producing exquisite works of art using Favrile glass, with his works featuring impressionistic effects that helped define the Art Nouveau movement.
Gustav Klimt is the most famous artist that the Art Nouveau movement produced. He headed the Austrian Secession group, an Art Nouveau group composed of architects, artists, and designers who created artworks that featured beauty and function. He is known for creating risqué pieces that beautifully depicted nudes and piles of entwined bodies, all of which were heavily criticized by the Viennese establishment back in the day. His most iconic works include The Kiss, Beethoven Frieze, and Girl from Tanagra, to name a few.
Aubrey Beardsley lived a colorful life. Aubrey Beardsley drew inspiring, bold depictions surrounding provocative topics despite having no formal training. A controversial figure in his time, he produced masterpieces considered some of the best made in the Art Nouveau area. His illustration of Oscar Wilde’s play Salome was one of Beardsley’s most graphic due to its vivid ghostly figures, nude hermaphroditic figures, and phallic-shaped objects. Despite his short life, Beardsley profoundly impacted the Art Nouveau movement.
Art Nouveau was a defining visual language of the early 19th century. Its uniquely beautiful style can still be seen in many glorious cities around the globe. While considered lavish and overly elaborate to be appreciated by the masses, it inspired succeeding movements, including Bauhaus, Art Deco, and Modernism, to name a few.
1st and featured image from https://historylists.org/art/7-greatest-art-nouveau-masterpieces.html
2nd image from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henri-de-Toulouse-Lautrec