Art Nouveau was a very interesting subject for me. From it’s conception to it’s self implosion, it seemed to embody its own tenets so strongly. A loose, yet definite and icon style, reveling in beauty, death and the beauty of death.
It could be said that Alfonse Mucha was the initiator of the movement, even if it was by accident. His chance encounter with Sarah Bernhardt and her request was the spark required to start the engine which would eventually implode into itself. The tinder for this all consuming wildfire, in my opinion was probably, but not exclusively; the idea of the nouvelle woman, Charles Baudelaire and his macabre, yet alluring poetry, the end of the industrial revolution, and rise of populaces’ weary with the revolution.
To speak of the style of Art Nouveau, it was one which was sensual and dark. It glorified the taboo subjects of the time and brought to light things which would never have been considered art.
Personally, I do fancy the style. It is sensual yet delicate, and slight motifs of the night such as bats and the moon bring a sinister aura with them. The subtle amalgamation of such elements do well to create a seamless portrait of beauty.
Moving on to more three-dimensional expressions of Art Nouveau, Rene Lalique comes to mind. Eschewing precious metals and traditionally luxurious gems, he favoured cheap materials with luxe elements, thus turning the focus of such baubles from its material to its design. This shift is particularly significant to me and further reinforced my affection for the style.
Art Nouveau also ended in a way most apt for it’s own style. As a style which encompassed Life and Death, could one not say that an artistic suicide was the most fitting way to go? It was the peak of style, which in all its decadence and decoration, found its own demise. The consumers of the style found it overpowering and overbearing, and swiftly moved towards the next style; Modernism. A victim of its own success, Art Nouveau could be likened to a candle that burnt itself out prematurely.