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Who was one of the most versatile artists of the Art Nouveau Movement?

Victor Horta
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Emile Gallé
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Art Nouveau
by Uta Hasekamp

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon with many faces. Between 1890 and 1910, artists developed a variety of styles from the plant-like forms of the Belgian-French Art Nouveau to the ornamentation of the Viennese Secession. They were all striving to create a new, modern style and pursued a comprehensive renewal of art and, in some countries, a renewed national identity.

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Art Nouveau—
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Although the Art Nouveau style wasn’t around for a long time, its influence affected every form of art, from architecture to pottery to furniture design and even glass and pottery. This short video gives a brief overview of the Movement.

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Decorating with Antiques
by Bob Brooke


Many people see antiques only as objects to be collected. But unless a piece is delicate, rare, or of exceptional value, antiques, both furniture and accessories, are meant to be used.

One of the biggest changes in the antiques market is the switch from antiques as items to collect to ones with which to decorate. It’s the interior decorators who have spearheaded this move. In most cases its they who scour antique shops for objects to use in decorating their clients’ homes. But they often have to do some fast talking to convince homeowners that old is good.

But don’t think objects have to be valuable antiques. Vintage furniture and accessories from the 20th century, especially after 1921, while not technically antiques, are just as interesting and even more affordable and useful than pieces from the 19th century.

Retro—furniture and accessories from the 1950s and 1960s—is all the rage right now. While some pieces, especially by noted designers, can get pricey, most are affordable for those on a budget. But to find them requires searching used furniture and charity shops and even online in places like Facebook’s Marketplace.

Part of the problem for many people is the proliferation of home decorating and remodeling shows on both PBS and cable T.V. channels. Most of these shows have a common theme—modernization. They show how to rip out old fixtures and replace them with new ones, tearing out historic elements to “update” a house.

The only reason to “update” an old house is to make it livable for the current owner. New paint, new fixtures where required, and repairs will do just fine over time.

Many condos and new homes are already pretty bland. Heaven forbid that anyone would want to live in a space with anything but white walls. While white will visually expand the space of an apartment or condo, it doesn’t add any warmth. And that’s where select pieces of old furniture come in. They add interest because of their uniqueness and warmth from their wood tones.

If you live in an historic house, play up your home’s architecture with some pieces from that time period. Research styles of bygone eras by visiting historic houses. And while most historic houses have been curated to a specific time, you aren’t limited to that restriction, so you can use furniture and accessories in various styles and from different periods

Rather than choosing a style to use throughout your house, consider using different styles in different rooms making each room unique—one room Art Deco, another Victorian cottage, and yet another turn of the 20th century. Or use one style in your public rooms and another in your private rooms.

If you want a more uniform look rather an eclectic one, use traditional furniture design stripped to its bare essentials with few turnings and no decorations.

For cozy warmth, look to rustic and natural furnishings made of bark-covered logs or simple planks. Simple designs executed in natural wood that emphasized craftsmanship, quality materials, and strong clean lines.

The opposite extreme is the geometric lines of Art Deco, a fashion-oriented style, influenced by primitive art and Cubism, with more color, pattern, and grand ornamentation such as zigzags, electricity bolts, and skyscrapers.

Art Moderne design, based on unifying art and technology with little ornamentation, emphasizes the form-follows-function concept of the Bauhaus. Materials such as metal tubing, glass and other technological, machine-made materials.

Back in the 1960s, antiques broke away from their only-for-the-rich place to one in which everyone can buy, collect, and enjoy them. Instead of the decorator shows putting antiques in a place of prominence in people’s minds, many of them categorize them as second rate—if you can’t afford new furniture, buy used pieces and update it by repainting. This approach ignores the concept of buying old and enjoying it for what it is.

The same applies to antique accessories. Decorating with pieces of Staffordshire pottery isn’t the same as collecting it. While a collector may display his or her pieces artistically, a decorator only uses the pieces to add warmth and charm. In fact, the homeowner may not know anything about the dishes gracing the plate rack in her kitchen. They just look pretty to her.

Above all, decorating with antiques doesn’t mean sticking to one period or style. Today’s homes are eclectic—a favorite chair from grandmother, a rug from a friend, and so on

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How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

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Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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