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Art Nouveau: New Art for a New Age

Art Nouveau, meaning “the New Art” in French, is a style of art that originated near the dawn of the 20th century and emcompassed nearly every form of artistic expression including art objects, architecture, jewelery, home décor, textile designs, and glassware. The development of Art Nouveau was the result of the efforts of artists worldwide to create an international style of art that represented the dawn of a new age. The exhibition of Art Nouveau at the World’s Fair of 1900 in Paris established it as a significant style and facilitated its widespread popularity.

Art Nouveau is generally considered to be a response to the Industrial Revolution because artists of the style made use of new materials and technologies but placed an emphasis on handcrafting in contrast to machine manufacture. Inspiration for the style was largely found in the flat and linear expression of Japanese wood block prints as well as the intertwining lines of Celtic art and the fluid curves of Gothic architecture.

Works of art in the Art Nouveau style typically feature objects of nature such as birds, flowers and insects but also include women and fantasy creatures. Embellishment is introduced in the form of intertwining curvilinear vegetal forms such as leaves, flowers, vines, grasses and even seaweed. Art Nouveau works of art are often dreamy, fantasy-like, exotic or erotic in nature. Art Nouveau has the appearance of flatness which is accomplished by the absence or reduction of shading; abstract line work is often used as a filler. Art Nouveau was also known Jugendstil or Yellow Book Style, and was the major component of the Fin de Siècle style. The term Art Nouveau is actually a derivation of the name of an art shop in Paris called Maison de l'Art Nouveau that was instrumental in introducing this particular style of art.

Leading champions of Art Nouveau include Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, Louis Comfort Tiffany and René Lalique.

A marvelous example of Art Nouveau architecture, Casa Batllo in Barcelona, Spain, was designed by Antonio Gaudi and can be seen here.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
   You can see Diana's own artwork by visiting her site at