Koloman Moser during Art Nouveau

Out of all the movements we’ve been focusing on i’ve been most interested in art nouveau.  It took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and goes by various names, such as the Glasgow style, or Jugendstil.  It’s aim was to modernize design and escape from the historical styles that had previously been popular.  This style of art was largely characterized by it’s use of long, sinuous, organic lines, which is what peeked my interest.  I immediately drew a connection to my style of art.  It has a very distinguishable decorative aspect to it with it’s smooth wave like motion that often takes form of flower stalks, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other natural objects.  The lines can be elegant and graceful or, take on a more powerful rhythmic force. 

One work in particular that caught my eye was the poster design by Koloman Moser.  I really like how he is able to make all the shapes flow together in order to create a bigger image.  Individually these these shapes appear to be no more than abstract squiggles.  However, these black shapes form to create an image of a woman’s hair, and the way they are elegantly spaced out gives it texture as well to even further push the image of hair.  A very crucial aspect to this design is the negative space.  This negative space is what creates the shape of her face.  It all flows together so well it’s hard to tell whats negative space and whats part of the actual image.  Another aspect I particularly like is how he ties the idea of naturalism into this.  The whole composition is composed of intricate linear designs and flowing curves, that are based off of the natural flow of her hair.  He even further pushes natural form into his work by forming parts of her hair into rose like shapes.  By subtly bring this actual object from nature into his piece he is able to solidify the naturalistic theme of art nouveau.  Finally, I really like how bold this piece is with the contrast between black and white.  This made it stand out too me from all of the other works I saw from art nouveau. 

Through this I was able to see where my style of art came from.  I like to express naturalism through a very similar style.  My medium of choice is a black marker or pen.  I like to play with negative shapes and contrast while still keeping a naturalistic feel to it.

Koloman Moser, Ver Sacrum, February 1899


Otto Eckmann

In the time in which Eckmann was alive, he was living in a Germany that was rising to power and well on its way to a united German state and a world power like England already was. For much of its history, Germany seemed to be rising with England almost step for step in the Industrial Revolution and even in the world of art progression (Kitchen).

Otto Eckmann was a very versatile artist from Germany. Eckmann was originally born in Munich in the year 1865. During his early artistic career he was focused very much on painting, as most artists in Germany were before Art Nouveau really broke out (Meggs). From the beginning however, Eckmann had always ben interested in and heavily influenced by Japanese woodblock printing, the Japanese term for this style was Ukiyo-e, and the very organic nature of the lines and overall image. This Japanese influence soon became the driving force of art Nouveau.

This emerging art style that is Art Nouveau, Jugendstil in Germany, was developed out of the Arts and Crafts movement (Kunstgewerbe), which was a revolt by the artists against the Industrial Revolution (Meggs). Eckmann, along with others such as Peter Behrens, were driving forces in this artistic movement. This period in time is where Eckmann became more diverse in his artistic explorations. While Eckmann did start out as a painter he eventually became a printer, graphic designer, jewelry designer and type designer.

Eckmann’s use of organic lines and shapes not only paid homage to Japanese woodcuts but also to the swan. As one may be able conclude, the swan was Eckmann’s favorite animal. A quote from Eckmann himself is: “To borrow from the angry swan the rhythmic line and not the swan- that is the problem of ornamental usage” (Weiss). This means that an artists often forgets just how often nature can influence their artwork and how the world around them can really shape their art.

In order to complete the design of his typeface Eckmann joined with Karl Klingspor, owner of a type foundry. In this foundry is where the typeface Eckmann resided until it eventually found its way into the hands of Linotype.


Image from Artstor, of Otto Eckmann’s sketchbook

Kitchen, Martin. 2006. History of Modern Germany, 1800-2000. [N.p.]: Blackwell Pub,   2006. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 19, 2016).

Meggs, Philip B., Alston W. Purvis, and Philip B. Meggs. 2012. Meggs’ history of graphic design. n.p.: Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c2012., 2012. catalogUSMAI, EBSCOhost (accessed September 20, 2016).

Stein, Laurie. A. “Otto Eckmann.” Oxford Art Online. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/

Weiss, Peg. 1979. Kandinsky in Munich : the formative Jugendstil years. n.p.: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1985. catalogUSMAI, EBSCOhost (accessed September 19, 2016).