Art Nouveau is an international movement and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that peaked in popularity at the turn of the 20th century (1890–1905). The name 'Art nouveau' is French for 'new art'. It is also known as Jugendstil, German for 'youth style', named after the magazine Jugend, which promoted it, and in Italy, Stile Liberty from the department store in London, Liberty & Co., which popularized the style. A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it is characterized by organic, especially floral and other plant-inspired motifs, as well as highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms. Art Nouveau is an approach to design according to which artists should work on everything from architecture to furniture, making art part of everyday life.
The movement was strongly influenced by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, when Mucha produced a lithographed poster, which appeared on 1 January 1895 in the streets of Paris as an advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou, starring Sarah Bernhardt.It was an overnight sensation, and announced the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris. Initially called the Style Mucha, (Mucha Style), this soon became known as Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau's fifteen-year peak was most strongly felt throughout Europe—from Glasgow to Moscow to Madrid — but its influence was global. Hence, it is known in various guises with frequent localized tendencies. In France, Hector Guimard's metro entrances shaped the landscape of Paris and Emile Gallé was at the center of the school of thought in Nancy. Victor Horta had a decisive impact on architecture in Belgium. Magazines like Jugend helped spread the style in Germany, especially as a graphic artform, while the Vienna Secessionists influenced art and architecture throughout Austria-Hungary. Art Nouveau was also a movement of distinct individuals such as Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Alphonse Mucha, René Lalique, Antoni Gaudí and Louis Comfort Tiffany, each of whom interpreted it in their own individual manner
Although Art Nouveau fell out of favor with the arrival of 20th-century modernist styles, it is seen today as an important bridge between the historicism of Neoclassicism and modernism. Furthermore, Art Nouveau monuments are now recognized by UNESCO on their World Heritage List as significant contributions to cultural heritage. The historic center of Riga, Latvia, with "the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe", was inscribed on the list in 1997 in part because of the "quality and the quantity of its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture", and four Brussels town houses by Victor Horta were included in 2000 as "works of human creative genius" that are "outstanding examples of Art Nouveau architecture brilliantly illustrating the transition from the 19th to the 20th century in art, thought, and society." It later influenced psychedelic art that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s
At its beginning, neither Art Nouveau nor Jugendstil was the common name of the style, and the style adopted different labels as it spread between artistic centers. Those two names came from, respectively, Samuel Bing's gallery Maison de l'Art Nouveau in Paris and the magazine Jugend in Munich, both of which promoted and popularized the style.
Maison de l'Art Nouveau (House of New Art) was the name of the gallery opened in 1895 by the German art dealer Samuel Bing in Paris that marked his exclusive focus on modern art The fame of his gallery was increased at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, where he presented coordinated—in design and color—installations of modern furniture, tapestries and objets d'art. These fully-realized decorative displays became so strongly associated with the style that the name of his gallery subsequently provided a commonly-used term for the entire style: Art Nouveau.
Jugend: Münchner illustrierte Wochenschrift für Kunst und Leben (English: Youth: the illustrated weekly magazine of art and lifestyle of Munich) was a magazine founded in 1896 by Georg Hirth. At the height of Art Nouveau, the magazine was instrumental in promoting the style in Germany. As a result, the magazine's name was adopted as the most common German-language term for the movement: Jugendstil ("Jugend-style"), although, in the early 20th century, the word was applied to only two-dimensional examples of the graphic arts, especially the forms of organic typography and graphic design found in and influenced by German-magazines like Jugend, Pan, and Simplicissimus. It is now broadly applied to the broader manifestations of Art Nouveau visual arts in Germany, the Netherlands, the Baltic states, and Nordic countries
The origins of Art Nouveau are found in the resistance of William Morris to the cluttered compositions and the revival tendencies of the Victorian era and his theoretical approaches that helped initiate the Arts and crafts movement. However, Arthur Mackmurdo's book-cover for Wren's City Churches (1883), with its rhythmic floral patterns, is often considered the first realization of Art Nouveau. Around the same time, the flat-perspective and strong colors of Japanese woodcuts, especially those of Katsushika Hokusai, had a strong effect on the formulation of Art Nouveau's formal language. The wave of Japonisme that swept through Europe in the 1880s and 1890s was particularly influential on many artists with its organic forms, references to the natural world, and clear designs that contrasted strongly with the reigning taste. Besides being adopted by artists like Emile Gallé and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Japanese-inspired art and design was championed by the businessmen Siegfried Bing and Arthur Lasenby Liberty at their storesin Paris and London, respectively.[Although Art Nouveau took on distinctly localized tendencies as its geographic spread increased—discussed below—some general characteristics are indicative of the form. A description published in Pan magazine of Hermann Obrist's wall-hanging Cyclamen (1894) described it as "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip,", which became well-known during the early spread of Art Nouveau. Subsequently, not only did the work itself become better-known as The Whiplash, but the term "whiplash" is frequently applied to the characteristic curves employed by Art Nouveau artists. Such decorative "whiplash" motifs, formed by dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines in a syncopated rhythm, are found throughout the architecture, painting, sculpture, and other forms of Art Nouveau design.