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Art Nouveau

The Art Nouveau movement occurred during the last two decades of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century. The movement influenced various disciplines, from architecture and interior design to jewelry and book illustration. The movement began in Europe and was given its name by a Parisian art dealer who opened a shop called “L’Art Nouveau, or ‘new art’” (Sherman 1). The movement formed in reaction to the historical tradition of art, and, in part as a rebellion against the dehumanizing aspects of industrialism. Instead, the movement’s art focused on curved lines also known as whiplash lines and used more naturalistic themes in its composition, “Artists revolted against industrialization and returned to nature of inspiration. ‘New Art’ was primarily a type of decoration based on linear patterns of sinuous curves that often suggested water lines” (Art Nouveau 1).

Where its motifs are concerned, Art Nouveau was a mixture of different influences, from Japanese prints and Gothic architecture to often fantastical elements based on the paintings and drawings of poet artist William Blake. The style was extremely decorative and the movement was catalyzed by the Arts & Crafts movement in England that had been founded in 1861, by the designer William Morris (Encarta 1). The Arts & Crafts movement despised the poorly mass produced techniques that had arisen with industrialism. As such, the movement even had its own manifesto which outlined the focus and techniques to be used in creation, “Art Nouveau took up and elaborated the Arts and Crafts manifesto for the creation of a completely new style and a devotion to handicrafts” (Encarta 1). The intense focus on arts and crafts techniques and the highly decorative nature of the style was one reason why it would not survive World War I. Many of its works and techniques were expensive and not easy to mass produce. These limitations of the style...

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Art Nouveau. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:10, May 26, 2020, from