I will start my discussion of art Nouveau by explaining the origin of its development which was William Morris , artist designer and Marxist. Morris together with Eleanor Marx , Frederick Engels and others was instrumental in forming the Socialist League one of the early Marxist movements in Britain and precursor of the British Communist Party.
” It is to William Morris that Art Nouveau owed its single greatest debt. Far earlier and more stridently than any other individual or group”. .
” It was Morris who challenged Mid-Victorian aesthetic values and the manner in which they affected society as a whole”. .
Alastair Duncan in his book on art Nouveau makes reference to the great Designer who had a very important influence on art Nouveau Arthur Heygate McMurdo.
” If Morris was the Theoretician whose beliefs more than those of anyone else initateed the art Nouveau movement it was Arthur Heygate McMurdo (1851-1942) who provided its earliest practical implementation”. .
” The English designer and Book illustrator Walter Crane ( 1845-1915) was another to provide inspiration to the art Nouveau movement in its seminal years” . .
Duncan now makes reference to a very controversial figure in the Art Nouveau movement the Englishman Aubrey Beardsley.
” The career of Art Nouveau’s enfant terrible Aubrey Vincent Beardsley ( 1872-1898) resembled that of the movement itself”. .
” In Paris the momentum of Art Nouveau was maintained from the early 1890’s by Sigefried Bing”. .
One of the most important influences on both Art Nouveau and art Deco was the towering influence of the Scottish school of architecture led by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
” A felicitous blend of architectural talent and vision on the one hand and the Public’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. the City’s new Art Movement was dominated by Charles Rennie Mackintosh”. .
Duncan continues to explain the development of the amazing quartet that Revolutionised Scottish art and design .
” Assisting Mackintosh were Herbert McNair and two sisters Margaret and Frances Macdonald who married the two men”. .
” Mackintosh’s impact on 20th Century design was phenomenal and out of all proportion to his brief character which totally eclipsed those of the foremost architects in the south of England”. .
Duncan continues his review of art Nouveau particularly in Paris and its surrounding area.
” By 1910 almost the only living traces of art Nouveau in Paris could be found in the newly constructed ceramic Hotel and the faded floral compositions that Lingered at the salons”. .
Duncan now moves to consider the massive impact of the Vienna secession and artists like Gustave Klimt and Odile Redon.
” Since the impact of Art Nouveau on the Fine arts was Ambiguous and often only peripheral it is harder to define than other disciplines” . .
Duncan’s commentary now centres on Gustave Klimt and the Vienna secession.
” The paintings of Odile Redon likewise reveal certain Art Nouveau sympathies. Redon created compositions on the frontier of reality and fantasy” ..
” In 1900 Vienna could boast of one if not the quintessential Art Nouveau artist Gustave Klimt. Certainly no other artists work embodied the movement more fully in terms of such issues as the art of surface decoration, flowering curves and rich ornamentation”. .
Duncan marvels about his Landscapes and Floral work.
” His Landscapes and flowering compositions rendered in a kaleidoscopic and compact curving linear imagery mixed representational elements with freely invented geometric ornaments”. .
” Art Nouveau was far more successful in its application to the various disciplines within the graphic arts-posters woodcuts illustrated books and typography”. .
Duncan now comments on Alphonse Mucha and other French and Belgian art Nouveau artists and designers.
” Alphonse Mucha became the most celebrated art Nouveau poster artists in part through his association with Sarah Bernhardt”. .
” Far closer to the French interpretation of art Nouveau were a host of Belgian poster designs headed by Privat Lievrimont who had trained in Paris. using the same iconography of Nude or Semi-nude belle époque maidens who appeared so voluptuously on the Billboards of Paris”. .
This concludes the first part of my discussion of Art Nouveau artists . In Parts 2 and 3 I will further explore this artistic movement which blossomed before the First world war reflecting happiness gaiety and general Vivre de joie in Europe before the Imperialist Onslaught of 1914-8.
- ART NOUVEAU ALASTAIR DUNCAN PG. 9