Art Nouveau was a movement in the visual arts popular from the early 1890s up to the First World War. It is viewed by some as the first self-conscious attempt to create a modern style. Its influence can be found in painting, sculpture, jewellery, metalwork, glass and ceramics.The drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, the architecture of Victor Horta and Paul Hankar and the poster designs of Alphonse Mucha are some of the most familiar examples of the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau and the Erotic
Art Nouveau (1890-1914) appeared during a period of radical change in Europe, as growing urbanization and political unrest forced a transformation of individual consciousness and collective society. Drawing on history, nature, symbolism and craft movements from around the world, Art Nouveau design found its expression in domestic objects, and thus brought its ideologies into the most intimate corners of human life.
Study Room Resource: Art Nouveau
Prints and drawings that are not on display in the galleries can be seen in the Prints & Drawings Study Room. To make it easier for teachers and lecturers to access the most popular material with groups, we have developed themed study room resources, such as this one on Art Nouveau, which contain original prints and drawings.
Siegfried 'Samuel' Bing
Siegfried Bing was an art dealer who was very influential in introducing Japanese art and artworks to the West and in developing the Art Nouveau style in the late 19th century through his gallery in Paris, the Maison de l’Art Nouveau. The South Kensington Museum bought Japanese and Chinese objects from Bing from 1875 onwards.
Sir George Donaldson
Sir George Donaldson was an art dealer and collector who sold or donated many items to the South Kensington Museum. In 1900 he presented it with 30 items of Art Nouveau furniture, including works by artists such as Emile Gallé and Louis Marjorelle, which he had purchased at the International Exhibition in Paris, where he had served as a juror.
20th-Century Design Styles
During the 20th century, art and design was inescapably influenced by politics. Modernism and Art Deco were a reaction to the horrors of the First World War. Later, artists responded to the end of World War II and the fear and suspicion brought on by the Cold War tensions between East and West.