Art Nouveau

In the 19th century European architecture and applied art were dominated by ‘neo-styles’ based on the pictorial languages of the past. Buildings, vases and furniture, for instance, were designed in Gothic, Baroque and Classical idioms. Around 1890 many artists and artisans had tired of these historicizing styles and devised an entirely new one, very appropriately called Art Nouveau in French, or Jugendstil in German. It is characterized by asymmetry, sinuous lines and decorative organic forms derived from animals, flowers and plants.

At the turn of the previous century, Art Nouveau largely determined architecture and design in various Western European countries. Belgian architects, such as Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde designed numerous buildings in this style. The Dutch artist Jan Toorop and the Frenchman Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec incorporated its flowing forms in their graphic art. The influence of Art Nouveau diminished after 1910.

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