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Art Nouveau Architecture


Art Nouveau detail on the Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan

Art Nouveau detail on the Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan

Photo © Mary Ann Sullivan, Digital Imaging Project

During the late 1800s, many European artists, graphic designers, and architects rebelled against formal, classical approaches to design. They believed that the greatest beauty could be found in nature.

Art Nouveau (French for "New Style") was popularized by the famous Maison de l'Art Nouveau, a Paris art gallery operated by Siegfried Bing. Art Nouveau art and architecture flourished in major European cities between 1890 and 1914.

In the United States, Art Nouveau ideas were expressed in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Art Nouveau buildings have many of these features:

  • Asymmetrical shapes
  • Extensive use of arches and curved forms
  • Curved glass
  • Curving, plant-like embellishments
  • Mosaics
  • Stained glass
  • Japanese motifs

Other Names for Art Nouveau:

As it moved through Europe, Art Nouveau went through several phases and took on a variety of names.
  • Style Moderne, in France
  • Style Nouille (Noodle Style), in France
  • Jugendstil, in Germany
  • Sezession, in Austria
  • Stile Liberty, in Italy
  • Arte Noven, in Spain
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