Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Magnetic Warmth of Art Nouveau.

One of my favorite artistic styles is Art Nouveau. I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces with you. Perhaps you'll see something you recognize. If not, then hopefully I can open your eyes to this wonderfully charming manner of creative expression.

Art Nouveau is totally encompassing -- it can be seen in drawings, paintings, sculpture, architecture and functional design. In essence, Art Nouveau is about natural elegance. Curves and corporeal shapes are drawn upon to give the impression of authenticity. Works are filled with an alluring magnetic warmth, with some subjects appearing as if they will suddenly spring to life.

Most prevalent during the late 1800's through the turn of the Twentieth Century, Art Nouveau has maintained its stature and importance amongst appreciators of art. It's ability to capture the natural grace of the world, especially in the portrayal of the human form, is second to none.

Easily one of the most recognizable examples of Art Nouveau is this Absinthe Robette advertisment by Henri Privat-Livemont. And to think, this gorgeous image was produced just to sell an alcoholic beverage! A large print of this masterful work hangs in my home office. It's haunting green glow and ghostly maiden give it a strange, but exhilarating radiance.

This work by the famed Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha is entitled "The Seasons". It captures the four seasons of our world in human form. From left to right, we have Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Mucha actually produced multiple versions of "The Seasons" over the course of his career, but this one from 1895 is my most favorite. The ethereal quality of the four subjects hooks me every time I gaze upon it. For more information about the amazing career of Mucha and a large gallery of his works, visit this comprehensive page at Artsy!

Photo Credit - laurent.bardin

Jules Lavirotte is probably my favorite Art Nouveau architect. His work is scattered throughout Paris and was highly acclaimed in his lifetime. Seen above is what's known as the Lavirotte Building, located at 29 Avenue Rapp, 7th arrondissement in Paris, France. It features one of the most famous of all doorways in the entirety of Europe. Check this out!

This lush and sensational facade won Lavirotte the prestigious Concours de facades de la ville de Paris award in 1901. He designed it with Jean-Baptiste Larrive, whom is another champion of the Art Nouveau style in his own right. The content of the sculpting is risque and erotic in places, with the biblical Adam and Eve stationed on either side. A wolf appears to leap from the face of a haunted visage at the peek of the doorway. If you look closely at the door, you'll notice it contains some rather blunt anatomical imagery. With wispy curvatures and intricate webs of detail, you can see why it won such praise.

Illustrator N.C. Wyeth captures glowing imagery in his masterpieces like few artists since. Shown above is the front cover to the 1924 first edition of Thomas Bulfinch's "Legends of Charlemagne" (which was originally written in 1863). Wyeth provided full illustrations throughout for this edition, which has become quite rare and sought after. I'm very lucky to own a copy. This scene depicts the heroic St. George attacking the mythical dragon. Wyeth was not only influenced by the Art Nouveau style, but also the Art Deco style (which I aim to discuss in a future article).

I hope you've enjoyed this very brief journey through the Art Nouveau style. Let's visit it again at a future date!

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