Saturday, July 6, 2013

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau—in some ways it's our trademark—it would be hard to find another subject category with its broad appeal. This appeal is something that has stumped us a bit over the years. We've never queried our customers as to what gives this subject such draw for them, therefore, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask—what is it that gets you about Art Nouveau? Is it the romantic draw of the bygone era—the fin-de-siècle? the elegant grace with which it represents the natural form? or the latent humor bubbling beneath its surface? Perhaps it's something even simpler than that—please let us know what you think!

For me the consummate appeal of the movement lies in these attributes (and in this order):
its energetic representation of form, disciplined yet elegant use of color, subject matter, understated humor, and yes, a little of my own romantic nostalgia for a bygone era....

Regarding the energetic representation of form, the fellow below, Hermann Obrist, was a noteworthy early practitioner. His wallhanging The Cyclamen (1894) became emblematic of the early movement, and gained notoriety when its description was published in Pan magazine as "...sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip"; subsequently, the work became known as The Whiplash (a title that could just as easily be applied to that mustache...)

Hermann Obrist, by Unknown photographer, 1895 - NPG Ax161135 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Hermann Obrist 

The Cyclamen (1894)
If you're interested in more on M. Obrist  there was an exhibition of his work at the Henry Moore Institute in 2010. Visit this link:

There are about 25-30 pure collections of Art Nouveau images available at When I say pure I'm talking about collections that fall squarely and entirely within the traditional definition of movement—but we've got lots of other collections that are partially comprised of Art Nouveau images, or are from related art movements.  Next post I'll give a tour of some of those collections–with an eye toward the energetic representation of form.

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