Art Nouveau

Extra Credit Assignment

An essential movement that helped evolve art, design, and the mindset of artists was Art Nouveau. This  international style of art, architecture and applied art, was especially fixated towards the decorative arts. It was considered a total art style as it embraced all forms of creation taking form in architecture, graphic art, interior design, and almost all of the decorative art including jewelry, furniture, textiles, household utensils, lighting, as well as the fine arts. These artists had a desire to combine the fine arts and applied arts, even for utilitarian objects. It was very popular between 1890 and 1901, as it cultivated as a reaction to the academic arts of the 19th century. It was highly inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers. The aim was to modernize design, they attempted to abolish the eclectic historical styles that had previously been popular with their more naturalistic take on art. This movement was also committed to abolishing the traditional hierarchy of the arts, which viewed so-called liberal arts, such as painting and sculpture, as superior to craft-based decorative arts. According to the philosophy of the style, art should be a way of life.

These artists were visionaries who were highly self inspired and a bit rebellious. This movement is very empowering to look back on as an artist. It promotes the idea of self discovery through art and pursuing where passion takes you. They went against the norm to create a very beautiful style. It offers a unique approach to elegance that is often strayed away from in lots of modern design. The beauty of how their pieces flow together through imagery and typography really captures the elegance of nature. It also depicts the circle of life in a way and well how nature works together in order to become this thing we know as life. The impact of nature is clearly depicted through Art Nouveau. However, this beauty gets lost in the modern day design through the great deal of industrialization that has taken over. The bold and clean look to modern designs offer their own sense of beauty but its not the same as magnificence of Art Nouveau. Their philosophy was that art should be a way of life, which is why forms of life, like plants and flowers dominated their art style. The artists of this time truly embraced life and all the beauty it has to offer.

This style has a to offer to current designers. Often times we tend to follow guide lines were are taught and have trouble straying away from them. We are taught how design should looked tend to assume that others have figured out the way of design. However, through experimentation, testing the limits, and breaking rules we will never truly grow or expand. Art needs to be treated as a way of life, not a way of conforming. Life is ever changing and growing which is why art needs to follow after. Life has an unlimited supply of inspiration and it is important for artists to take full advantage of this.


Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is a style of art that came about from 1890 to 1910. This movement had an affect on art, architecture, and applied art, more specifically the decorative arts. The artists involved during this time were inspired by nature. Lines became less linear, as patterns and curves became more common as they started to define pieces. One artist, Gustav Klimt, and his ‘Golden Phase’, received much positive criticism and was a financial success. Most paintings contained Gold, like he used in his other works “Pallas Athene” and “Judith I”.


Abanindranath Tagore was one of the first artists of Indian origin to gain worldwide recognition. He was the creator of Indian society of Oriental Art, which later lead to the creation and founding of Bengal school of Art. Tagore worked towards modernizing Mughal and Rajasthani styles of art, to contrast the western influence being spread at the time. Asoka’s Queen in 1910 was a popular painting during this time. This was a more modern Indian painting, and one of the few not centered around the traditional Hindu deities. This was done with fine lines, and paid attention to careful detail in the background and surrounding environment.dc8cf9e82c5ab9fa224868cb3f74473d

In comparison to Art Nouveau during this time, many works were are centered around women. In France, works primary subjects were focused around women. Also in Indian artworks, many works are focused around women. Also similar are the fine lines and curves used  in creating the composition. Details and curves that make up the surrounding environments also help to make up the composition.

Courtesans In Art History: Who Were These Women? Why Where They So Important?

When we look at art we may ask who is this mysterious subject matter? What may have brought them to become the muse to the artist as well as the face to their master piece. Many artists such as Kitagawa Utamaro and Alphonse Mucha used courtesans as their subject focus in their work. A courtesan is basically a glorified prostitute and these women played major roles for a lot of artist when it came to exploring the worlds of art. These women were even known to be in works that dated back to the Renaissance era in which the term “courtesan” originated. They often helped bring together the vision that artist may have had for their work. A lot of the time the courtesans were the central point to the work that even played in with the details of the actual art itself.

  1. A Pair of Lovers Kitagawa Utamaro Date: 1795 2. Alphonse Mucha

To be more specific the term courtesan came from the fact that these were women of the court, which originated around 1540 (Knight 1). These women weren’t just regular prostitutes but that of high class. They charged a high price to lay with them or seek any one on one time. When the 1800’s rolled around especially in France, being a sex symbol wasn’t that bad of a lifestyle for some women. Especially due to the fact that in a place like France sex sold very easily because of their life style standards already planted in society. Don’t let it be mistaken though, It wasn’t all flowers and sunshine in some places like England in comparison to France. Women did have an opportunity to be very wealthy if they managed to become a successful courtesan. There are women who are still remembered till this day for being famous prostitutes. Nell Gwynne is a very infamous. She was a courtesan to many people of royalty such as the mistress to King Charles II (Cellania 1).

blog-3Courtesan, Nell Gywnne

   Back around the 1750’s and 1900’s prostitution was the norm, possibly even a sense of revolution to art. In Paris courtesans were one of the key subject for artists. These artists found modernity as well as inspiration for these women of the night (Farago 1). Toulouse-Lautrec’s is a good example of a famous artist that admired the use of these fast paced women in his art. He managed to capture them in such a natural, raw environment.


Toulouse-Lautrec’s Rue des Moulins shows the indignity of forced medical inspections that Parisian prostitutes endured

Without these women a lot of artist would not have been able to get into the true exploration that art had to offer during those important mile stones in history. These women weren’t just sex symbols but they allowed artist to venture off into a territory that may have been frowned upon in society. The provocative, lustful side these women added to art created this forced attention from society through art. It opened doors to an abundance of new views on the women body as well as self expression.


Works Cited:

Farago, Jason. “Courtesans and Street Walkers: Prostitutes in Art.” BBC. N.p., 10 Sept. 15. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

“Tag Archives: Nell Gwynne.” LA CONCHIGLIA DI VENERE. N.p., 25 Feb. 11. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Cellania, Miss. “The Lady’s Not a Tramp: History’s Greatest Courtesans.”Neatorama. N.p., 30 Sept. 14. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Knight, Eliza. “The Life of a Courtesan.” N.p., 09 Apr. 09. Web. 29 Sept. 16.

If Mucha was Metal


Throughout High School, I dove into the realm of Metal music. I was very active as an artist and music was my main source of inspiration. A lot of my artwork was inspired by music of the metal genres. One artist in particular also became my primary inspiration, Dan Mumford. Dan’s work can be seen on multitudes of album covers and now movie posters. His style consists of vibrant color schemes and consistent, detailed line work. At the time that I was studying his work for my own interpretations, I thought his work was completely original and derived from his own mind. However, it is true what they say, that all art is influenced by its predecessors.


One day, I came across an interview someone had done with Dan Mumford, and one of the questions asked was, “who are some of your influences?”. Dan was adamant to reply with an artist by the name of Alphonse Mucha. This was my first entrance into art nouveau and after seeing Mucha’s work, it was uncanny. There was influence down to the brush strokes. I saw Dan Mumford as a future form of Mucha. If Alphonse Mucha listened to heavy rock n’ roll, this is what his artwork would look like.

Dan Mumford, took Mucha’s sensitivity to color, female subject matter, detailed line work and made it his own. It also seems coincidence that Mumford’s work, like Mucha’s, was made and printed for commercial purposes, as albums and posters. His work is a revival of the Art Nouveau movement. His images are consistently decorated and remain flat. In the age of the 21st century, where quantity matters more than quality, it is nice to see that artists like, Dan Mumford, are keeping the Art nouveau mentality. To show that Art is a craft and is not one to be replicated, but to be original and not just quick imitations. His work is a great example of this, for he is sending an homage to the past, instead of simply copying it.


Dan Mumford, Star Wars Promotional


Alphonse Mucha, Bières de la Meuse

Women in European Art Nouveau

      Cultural changes experienced throughout the Industrial Revolution in Europe had a tremendous impact on the portrayal of women in art. Before this revolution, women were often defined by their household roles, allowed to claim no legal rights or identity apart from their husbands. Women typically remained at home to bear and nurture children, while the men provided for the family monetarily. During the late 19th century, this dependency and inferiority transitioned into “a gradual emergence of women into more fulfilling lives that allowed them to play larger roles in society” (Eskilson, 72).

     Art Nouveau was a new artistic style that emerged synchronistically with this new culture throughout the Industrial Revolution. Heavily influenced by the Japanese, where eroticism and the rise of popular theater were promoted, European graphic designers strayed away from traditional depictions of women. One example of this shifting divergence from more conservative artworks is Privat Livemont’s Absinth Robette. Completed in 1896, Livefont masterfully blends the old and new styles of fine art and graphic design to create a captivating ad for Absinthe. He uses fine art modalities with an emblematic womanly figure, draped in a sheer cloth standing against a backdrop of dreamy, soft, warm tones. Livemont then pairs this illustration with organic and striking graphic design characters to conjure a “powerful sexual fantasy” (Eskilson, 65). The sexual overtones that this image embodies deviates from the reserved and constrained women of the past and invites the viewer to witness a new reality of the independent woman.

      Similarly, designers like Alphonse Mucha began to illustrate the “lives and leisure time of young women” (Eskilson, 72) with more sexual and provocative qualities. Alphonse’s ‘Waverley Cycles’ poster (1898) of a woman on a bicycle is a quintessential example of empowered women as “the modern bicycle became emblematic of women’s newfound freedom and ability to assert themselves as active members in American society” (Eskilson, 72). The woman, whose pale skin glows against a vibrant red background confidently leans over her bicycle and rests her arm next to a hand tool. Pairing these feminine features with these more ‘industrial-linked’ items,  Mucha captures a moment in the everyday life of a sensual and self-determined woman.

     The illustrations of women, throughout the Industrial Revolution, like the ones created by Livefont and Mucha, not only captured the essence of their new lifestyles, but assisted and encouraged the culture of equality that changed the history of gender roles.


Privat Livemont, Absinthe Robette, 1896


Alphonse Mucha, Waverley Cycles, 1898