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The Art Nouveau Movement (1890-1914)

F R A N C E

 
     
 

Art Nouveau was an international decorative style that thrived during the two decades (1890-1914) that encircled the turn of the century. It encompassed all the design arts – architecture, furniture and product design, fashion, and graphics. Because Art Nouveau forms and lines were often invented rather than copied from nature or the past, there was a revitalization of the design process that pointed toward abstract. Art Nouveau’s off-spring are 20th century designers who adopted, not its surface appearance, but rather its attitude toward materials, process, and values.

While a common form language linked the various versions of Art Nouveau, the style developed differently in each country. In England, new simplified forms had dictated suitable decoration; in France, the style developed from the sense that decoration
dictated form.The style in Belgium is characterized as a “whiplash linear” style. During
the mid-1890’s the German Jugendstil (Youth Style) and the Austrian Secession were characterized by hard-edge angular graphics; and the Glasgow Style, can be characterized by its rectilinear symmetry.

C H É R E T, "The Father of the Modern Poster"

Chéret revolutionized the look of posters. He used illustrations as the dominant feature in the poster, while reducing the text to be a minor part of the poster. It was Chéret's methods that gave rise to the commercial poster, that became understandable to even illerate people.

Chéret also played a role in the production of the poster. He helped refine the process of lithography (ink on metal or stone), being the first person to mass produce posters through lithography.

Chéret became known for his popular bright orange, blue and green music hall posters. The reign of the poster began to fade abit after 1900. After producing more than 1,000 posters, Chéret turned to painting shortly after 1900, his style being missed. The French government opened the Chéret Museum in 1928. Chéret died at the age of 96 in Nice.


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G R A S S E T

Born in Switzerland, Grasset moved to Paris at the age of 26. He began working with textiles, ceramic, jewerly, furniture and stained glass before turning to graphics in 1877. Grasset worked in muted color with a thick black contour line, he was influenced by medieval drawings and Japanese prints.


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T O U L O U S E -LA U T R E C

Lautrec's "groundbreaking" Moulin Rouge. Deprived of the kind of life a normal body would have permitted, Toulouse-Lautrec lived wholly for his art. He stayed in the Montmartre section of Paris, which was the center of the cabaret entertainment and bohemian life that he loved to paint. Circuses, dance halls and nightcclubs – were all
subjects Lautrec put on canves or made into lithographs.


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B O N N A R D

His work is elegant and at the same time conveys a social/political message. Bonnard is best known for his extraordinary painting – manipulating color and composition to evoke a felling or mood.


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S T E I N L E N

Steinlen's life-size Paris street scene showa a cross section of Parisian society.

Steinlen was friends with Toulouse-Lautrec, and the two men were inspired by each other. Steinlen was a very talented illustrator, and had strong political views which he often portrayed by depicting poverty, exploitation, and the working class. Steinlen also had a passion for cats, which was often too subject for his work.


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M U C H A

Mucha. from Czechoslovakia became famous with a poster he did for the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Work is complex, muted colors, stylized forms – plants, female is the central theme.

Mucha was a Czech who came to Paris at the age of 27. After working hard for more than two years with much of that time in poverty, Mucha caught a break when a poster needed to be redesigned at the printer's shop Mucha worked for. Because it was Christmas Eve Mucha was the only artist available, and received the job by default. The poster was for the famous actress at the time, Sarah Bernhardt – who was unhappy with the poster designed by Grasset for the play Joan of Arc. Even though the poster was not fully finished, Bernhardt was so happy with it Mucha was commissioned to design her posters for six years. Mucha used a strong central female figure with stylized forms from plants, folk art and Byzantium mosaics surrounding her. Mucha's style became so popular that it was often called le style Mucha instead of l'art nouveau.

Mucha left Paris and returned back to Czechoslovakia in 1917 after it became a free nation.


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Typical Typography and Motifs from around 1900.


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Some of the most stylistic innovations in type design were made by artists like
Grasset and Mucha.

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