9780810929227 / 0810929228

Art Nouveau, 1890-1914


Publisher:V&A Publications



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About the book:

Art nouveau embraced massive works of architecture and delicate pieces of jewelry, images of eerie seductresses and sinuous plant forms as well as flowing abstract shapes. The style transformed the decorative arts of many countries at a moment when Western culture believed itself to be on the brink of enormous change. Being ultramodern in the 1890s meant moving away from classical standards of beauty to create a sophisticated blend of nature and artifice. It also meant finding fresh inspiration in art history (Gothic architectural ornament, the airy curlicues of rococo art), non-European cultures (flat patterning in Japanese woodcuts, whiplash curves in Islamic art), or native folk art traditions.

Authoritative and elegantly written essays by 22 specialists, illustrated with 507 sumptuous photographs, make Art Nouveau, 1890-1914 one of the finest art books in recent memory. Produced to accompany a major exhibition that opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and runs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., from October 8, 2000, through January 28, 2001, this volume is the first to illuminate the full range of art nouveau media and the complex connections--scientific, literary, mystical, mythological, psychological, industrial, nationalistic--that allowed it to take root in Europe and the U.S.

The famous art nouveau figures are all represented, of course: architects and designers Charles Rennie Macintosh, Victor Horta, Hector Guimard, Josef Hoffmann, Antonio Gaudí; art glass wizards Louis Comfort Tiffany and Émile Gallé; illustrators Aubrey Beardsley and Alphonse Mucha. But part of the pleasure of this book consists in discovering exquisite or bizarre pieces by lesser-known designers empowered by the dark sensuality of a style that perversely borrowed from nature to celebrate the nervous energy of urban culture. --Cathy Curtis

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