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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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The Story of Art Deco

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French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

The Gallery That Started It All
by Bob Brooke


From the 1880s until the First World War, western Europe and the United States witnessed the development of a new style which became known as Art Nouveau or New Art.. Taking inspiration from the unruly aspects of the natural world, It influenced the applied arts, graphic arts, and illustration, as well as architecture.

The distinguishing ornamental characteristic of Art Nouveau was its undulating asymmetrical line, often taking the form of flower stalks and buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate and sinuous natural objects. The line could be elegant and graceful or infused with a powerfully rhythmic and whiplike force.

The innovating artists that created Art Nouveau sought to escape the eclectic historical styles that had previously been popular by modernizing them. Artists drew inspiration from both organic and geometric forms, evolving elegant designs that united flowing, natural forms.

The main influence for this new style was the Industrial Revolution. The designers welcomed its technological progress which gave them access to a variety of new materials and processes with which to create all forms of art.

Japonism, a wave of enthusiasm for Japanese woodblock printing, was another important influence on the new style. The works of Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Utagawa Kunisada, imported into Europe beginning in the 1870s, became the chief influencers. The enterprising Franco-German art dealer Siegfried Bing founded a monthly journal, Le Japon Artistique in 1888 and published 36 issues before it ended in 1891. The stylized features of Japanese prints appeared in Art Nouveau graphics, porcelain, jewelry, and furniture.

Art Nouveau was a European phenomenon. From Belgium and France, Art Nouveau spread to the rest of Europe, taking on different names and characteristics in each country---Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme català in Catalan, and Modern Style in English. The style was most popular between 1890 and 1910 during the Belle Époque period that ended with the start of World War I in 1914.

It often appeared not only in capital cities, but also in rapidly growing ones that wanted to establish artistic identities, such as Nancy and Strasbourg in France, Turin and Palermo in Italy; Glasgow in Scotland; Munich and Darmstadt in Germany, as well as in centers of independence movements—Helsinki in Finland and Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain.

New technologies in printing and publishing allowed Art Nouveau to quickly reach a global audience. Art magazines, illustrated with photographs and color lithographs, popularized the new style. The Studio in England, Arts et idèes and Art et décoration in France, and Jugend in Germany allowed the style to spread rapidly. Aubrey Beardsley in England, and Eugène Grasset, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton in France achieved international recognition as illustrators. With the posters by Jules Chéret for dancer Loie Fuller in 1893, and by Alphonse Mucha for actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1895, the poster became not just advertising, but an art form.

Following the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, the city became the capital of the new style. The status of Paris as a center for the arts attracted artists from all over the world. The Swiss-born artist Eugène Grasset was one of the first creators of French Art Nouveau posters. He helped decorate the famous cabaret Le Chat Noir in 1885, made his first posters for the Fêtes de Paris and a celebrated poster of Sarah Bernhardt in 1890. The Czech artist Alphonse Mucha arrived in Paris in 1888, and in 1895, made a poster for actress Sarah Bernhardt in the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou in Théâtre de la Renaissance.

In 1892, he organized an exhibit of seven artists, among them Pierre Bonnard, Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard, Toulouse-Lautrec and Eugène Grasset, which included both modern painting and decorative work. This exhibition was shown at the Société nationale des beaux-arts in 1895. In the same year, Bing opened a new gallery at 22 rue de Provence in Paris, the Maison de l'Art Nouveau, devoted to new works in both the fine and decorative arts. The interior and furniture of the gallery were designed by the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde, one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau architecture. The Maison de l'Art Nouveau showed paintings by Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Toulouse-Lautrec, glass from Louis Comfort Tiffany and Émile Gallé, jewellery by René Lalique, and posters by Aubrey Beardsley.

The Origin of the Term Art Nouveau
The Belgian journal L'Art Moderne was the first to use the term Art Nouveau in the 1880s to describe the work of Les Vingt, a group of 20 painters and sculptors who sought reform through art. The Maison de l'Art Nouveau, or "House of the New Art," an art gallery opened in Paris in 1895 by Siegfried Bing, popularized the term. The British commonly used the French term Art Nouveau while the French called it Style Moderne or Style 1900.

The Germans referred to the new style as Jugendstil, or "Youth Style," a term taken from the artistic journal, Die Jugend, or Youth, published in Munich. George Hirth founded the magazine in 1896. It survived until 1940. During the early 20th century, the German artists applied Jugendstil only to the graphic arts. It referred especially to the forms of typography and graphic design found in German magazines such as Jugend, Pan, and Simplicissimus. Later, they applied Jugendstil to other versions of Art Nouveau in Germany and the Netherlands.

Characteristics of the Art Nouveau Style
Early Art Nouveau, particularly in Belgium and France, featured undulating, curving forms inspired by lilies, vines, flower stems and other natural forms, used in particular in the interiors of Victor Horta and the decoration of Louis Majorelle and Émile Gallé. It also drew upon patterns based on butterflies and dragonflies, borrowed from Japanese art, which were popular in Europe at the time.

The new style often featured more stylized forms expressing movement, such as the coup de fouet or "whiplash" line, depicted in the cyclamen plants drawn by designer Hermann Obrist in 1894. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist's wall hanging “Cyclamen,” created in 1894, compared it to the "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip. Antique experts frequently used the term "whiplash," originally used to ridicule the style. Architects used such decorative undulating and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm and asymmetrical shape.

Louis Comfort Tiffany used other floral forms, inspired by lilies, wisteria and other flowers, particularly in his lamps, as did the artists of the Ecole de Nancy and Émile Gallé in their glass objects. They also embellished the trend, using elegant birds, such as swans and peacocks. Many designs depicted women's hair intertwined with stems of lilies, irises and other flowers. Architect and furniture designer Victor Horta employed stylized floral forms in carpets, balustrades, windows, and furniture. Hector Guimard these forms extensively for balustrades and for the lamps and railings at the entrances of the Paris Metro.

Art Nouveau color schemes leaned toward the muted and somber and became known as “greenery yallery, using mustard, sage green, olive green, and brown, often teamed with lilac, violet and purple, and peacock blue.

A wave of decorative art accompanied the debut of Art Nouveau in Brussels. Important artists included Gustave Strauven, who used wrought iron to achieve baroque effects on Brussels facades; the furniture designer Gustave Serrurier-Bovy, known for his highly original chairs and articulated metal furniture; and the jewelry designer Philippe Wolfers, who made jewellery in the form of dragonflies, butterflies, swans and serpents.

In France, the chief Art Nouveau designers included Louis Majorelle, Emile Gallé, and Eugène Vallin, all based in Nancy, as well as Tony Selmersheim, Édouard Colonna and Eugène Gaillard, who worked in Paris. The latter two worked for Bing's shop.

In France, the style reached its summit in 1900, and thereafter slipped rapidly out of fashion, virtually disappearing from France by 1905. Art Nouveau was a luxury style, which required expert and highly-paid craftsmen, and could not be easily or cheaply mass-produced. One of the few Art Nouveau products that could be mass-produced was the perfume bottle, and these are still manufactured in the style today.

By 1914, and with the beginning of the First World War, Art Nouveau was largely exhausted. In the 1920s, it was replaced as the dominant architectural and decorative art style by Art Deco and then Modernism.

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