Friday, August 20, 2010

Art Nouveau and Prague

Paul Berthon - L'ERMITAGE
I just wanted to share with you my love for all things Art Nouveau. There is just something so magical and incredibly creative about this artistic genre, which originated in the late 1800's and was popularized by Czech-born Alphonse Mucha and Jugend magazine from Munich. Along with Mucha, some of my favorite artists and architects representing art nouveau include Paul Berthon, Gustav Klimt, Maxfield Parrish (more neo-classical but very similar in tone), Hector Guimard and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Wikipedia states the philosophy behind art nouveau so perfectly: "Art Nouveau is now considered a 'total' style, meaning that it encompasses a hierarchy of scales in design — architecture; interior design; decorative arts including jewelery, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils and lighting; and the range of visual arts. In the philosophy of the movement, art should be a way of life. For many Europeans, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house with art nouveau furniture, silverware, crockery, jewelery, cigarette cases, etc. Artists desired to break all connections to classical times and bring down the barriers between the fine arts and applied arts. Art Nouveau was underlined by a particular way of thinking about modern society and new production methods, attempting to redefine the meaning and nature of the work of art so that art would not overlook any everyday object, no matter how utilitarian. Hence the name Art Nouveau - "New Art"."

The curvaceous lines and themes of nature along with the beautiful woman depicted in posters, to me, are pure eye candy. Our wedding invitation had an art nouveau theme and we have several framed posters and three original Mucha lithographs in our home, pictured below.


Our wedding invitation
About nine years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Prague, Czech Republic, for two weeks to visit my brother Forrest and his wife Annemarie, where Forrest was working for several months. It was here that my love for art nouveau truly blossomed. I was in heaven with Prague's art nouveau-influenced art and architecture as well as other styles such as Cubist and Baroque. Is it any coincidence that my mother and I are intensely drawn to art nouveau and the fact that our ancestors are from Bohemia (Czechoslovakia)?

I'm just going to let you enjoy the visuals of my favorites.

Metro entrance in Paris

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Salome - Alphonse Mucha
Alphonse Mucha
Alphonse Mucha
Maxfield Parrish


elventryst said...

Me too! Love it! Your wedding invitation is so beautiful-- did Gabe design it? I've always wanted to go a photoshoot with myself and three friends as the 4 seasons by Mucha (using Photoshop to give it that painterly quality) but have never quite figured out how to do it succesfully

Sierra Sullivan said...

Both Gabe and I designed it and my Mom put it together for us (she's a graphic designer). I've always wanted to do an art noveau-style photo shoot as well! Maybe if you're ever out on the west coast again (or us in NY), Gabe can shoot and we can make it happen.

Spy Fiction said...

Love the post. I share your excitement about this incredible period of art. A guy named Stuart Patterson of colorola did some work for those old naked music CD's that I gather was influenced by art nouveau. Its nice to see people that still love this timeless style of art.