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Art Nouveau Furniture: History and Characteristics

Art Nouveau Furniture: History and Characteristics

The Art Nouveau culture liberated art from the typical designs that it was caught in. Many modern designers and decorators were a part of this culture, that started during the 1890s. This style was included in architecture, furnishings, paintings, jewelry, etc. This DecorDezine article talks about furniture inspired by the Art Nouveau style.
Neha B Deshpande
"Japonisme was a vertical phenomenon running through a number of successive styles; Art Nouveau was a horizontal, chronologically limited phenomenon that embodied the aim of giving expression to a new experience of life."

― Klaus Berger, Japonisme In Western Painting From Whistler To Matisse

Art is influenced by many factors like industrial revolution, tastes and likes of people, their cultural background, and their social and economic development. It is said that a culture where art has flourished is a culture with a rich heritage. Art forms may be wiped out due to modern forms taking over, but they still form a part of history. Art never goes out of fashion. Even modern art forms derive inspiration from the historical ones. One such art form was the Art Nouveau that brought a radical change in the definition of art.

Given below is an account of the history and characteristics of Art Nouveau furniture.
Art too has its periods of renaissance, where modern artists wish to break free from the monotonous and typically followed art patterns. They say, variety is the spice of life. And art is no exception. Nouveau is a French word that means 'new' or 'latest'. As far as the Art Nouveau furniture is concerned, it started around the 19th century, was quite popular in France, and later flourished in many European countries. Though the exact period and origin cannot be traced, it started around the 1890s during the era when the Industrial Age started.

It was not limited to furniture alone. This art was applied to other elements like interior decor, paintings, architecture, jewelry, etc. Many advertisements were also influenced by this art form.

However, this style of furniture gave way to Art Deco around 1920, and today, there are very less traces of it found.
The main motive of these artists was to infuse nature into everyday life. It has a quintessential style of sinuous and curvy lines, that describe nature. In furnishings, it had beautiful and intricate designs described elaborately by curves and patterns that looked beautiful. Floral patterns, birds, insects, and of course, women as muses were infused in this art. Many elite houses were adorned by this art form. Breaking from the typical monotonous lines, curves were introduced, right from door furnishings to table lamps. Of course, every place had a different style of Art Nouveau, and it cannot be limited to one particular style. Artists modified it and created their own versions. In Austria, it was known as Sezession or Secession and in Germany, it came to be known as Jugendstil. In America, it came to be known as the Tiffany style. The Tiffany Lamp became quite popular in those times.
The primary characteristics of the style can be denoted by the following features.

➜ Willowy lines

➜ Curvilinear shapes

➜ Superior quality of work, intricately designed

➜ Floral elements and inspiration from nature (birds and insects).

➜ Women as muses

➜ Available in both, wood and wrought iron
Art Nouveau Furniture
A wrought iron sofa with elegant curvy and floral patterns. That's Art Nouveau for you; run your fingers along those beautiful sinuous lines.
It's a wrought iron table and chair in the Art Nouveau style. It will look good even as exterior furniture in your garden/courtyard.
That's a wooden table and cabinet inspired by the floral patterns of Art Nouveau. It adds grace to your room.
These are some designs and patterns in Art Nouveau, seeking inspiration from nature. The first image is an artistic version of the insect dragonfly, while the other portrays a woman as the muse. The legs and railings of the chairs you see, are inspired by willowy lines and floral elements.
Famous Art Nouveau Artists
Gustav Klimt
A revolutionary painter of the Art Nouveau period, he was one of the key members associated with the Secession movement of Vienna. Many of his art expressions had a woman as a muse.

Antoni Gaudi
He is one of the best Art Nouveau artists, belonging to Barcelona, who was known for his architecture that was inspired by nature. His furniture has won him praises.

Eugene Gaillard
He was a modern artist who was known for his passion for art. He gave up a career in law, and worked as an interior designer. He was one of the co-founders of Société des Artistes Décorateurs (The Society of Art Decorators).

Georges de Feure
Like many art decorators, he was one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau, and known for his paintings and commercial designs. He had also worked for Siegfried Bing, the famous art dealer of Paris, who founded the art gallery La Maison de l'Art Nouveau.

Bernhard Pankok
He was a German designer, known for his architecture, paintings, furniture, and interiors. However, his furniture designs of Jugendstil art earned immense popularity.
Today, these coils and curvilinear lines have been replaced by Art Deco, which is usually represented by geometrical designs in particular. However, modern furniture continues to include a little of Art Nouveau, for there are many who love the feel of it.