What is Art Nouveau?
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In French, Art Nouveau means, “new art.” It is a term that can be applied to graphic arts, architecture, sculpture, and design, but is mostly associated with decorative arts. Art Nouveau was a reaction against the increasing industrialization of Europe during the latter half of the nineteenth century; it officially began in the 1890s and was a dominant style until the beginning of the twentieth century. Artists working in the Art Nouveau aesthetic were drawn to nature, and much of their work was linear and organic. A good example of the art nouveau aesthetic is the work of Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939). His lithographic posters, such as Sarah Bernhardt, made in 1896 for the play, “La Dame aux Camelias,” emphasizes the actress’ elegance through elongated lines, organic patterns, and soft, pleasing colors. Other artists known for participating in the Art Nouveau movement are Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), Henry van de Velde (1863–1957), and Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898). Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) was an Art Nouveau glass artist, and the Scottish Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928) was one of Britain’s most well-known Art Nouveau designers. The Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926) created imaginative examples of Art Nouveau architecture.