Being a war child of the applied and the fine arts, Art nouveau has always gathered way more attention than both of them combined. It didn’t always gain the critic’s favor but it sure did feast a lot of fantasy fanatics with its eclectic positioning of mythical creatures to free-flowing sinuous edges relieving the eyes of the hard boundaries of the ionic and doric column tripartite structures.
Defining such a dynamic style of art would exhaust the dictionary of words nonetheless it can be narrowed down to certain keywords like free-flowing, eclectic, unconventional, organic, natural and the list goes on. A movement that originated in the brink of the 1890s, with its precursors as aestheticism by Aubrey Beardsley that focused on the organic representation of lines and the arts and crafts movement by William Morris, the style is a hybrid of both those two. Its definitive features are the sinuous curves and the representation of natural shapes and pictorial representation of organic elements with ornamentation. The movement rose to popularity in 1890-1910 in Europe and the US, and Belgium is where the term art nouveau was coined to the artworks by Les Vingt and by S.Bing in Paris. The style has different names in different places, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionstil in Austria, Stile Floreale in Italy, and modernism in Spain.
Some famous architects who defined the art nouveau movement would be Antoni Gaudi, August Endell, Charles Mackintosh, Gustav Klimt, Victor Horta, who all had a different interpretation of art nouveau yet defined the movement and made it inclusive. Some of the famous art nouveau works would be :
1. La Sagrada Familia , Barcelona – Antoni Gaudi
Generally regarded as an art nouveau, it is an offshoot of Modernisme ( Catalan art nouveau ) that is regarded as the peak of this revolution. The down to earth design of the basilica has been a topic of controversy on various bases, be it design or the economy factor. Started under the guidance of architect Francesco de Paula del Villar the construction of the church is estimated to get over by 2026 at the earliest. The originally planned 18 spires representing the twelve apostles, the Virgin Mary, four evangelists, and Jesus being the tallest of them have not yet been built. Gaudi also did acoustical studies for the temple spires, placing tubular bells inside them that would chime when the wind flows although only one they have been fixed as of today. The basilica represents art nouveau in its most raw form which has been chided by many critiques but art being subjective, this place has always drawn more awe than ‘ew’.
2. Casa Battlò , Casa Amatller And Casa Lleo Morera , Barcelona – Antoni Gaudi And Antoni Amatller
Another masterpiece of Antonio Gaudi, this building screams art nouveau which makes it expressionist In a way, a building expressing its art nouveau in bizarre ways. Any passerby would be awestruck by merely looking at the giant columnar window extrusions that are embellished with slender brass columns. The building was a remodel of a structure that might have been a farmhouse deriving from the remains of a larder in the basement. The exterior and the interiors both have such extensive detailing that explaining about the building would require a whole research paper. Some features that stand out would be the colorful mosaic exteriors with the spiny building top, The window is with no jambs or mullions giving a full panoramic view of the outside, the mask shaped balcony projections made of wrought iron. This building is an exaggeration of Modernisme.
Casa amatller is a mix of Neo-gothic style and germanic elements. One of the important facade features is the ridged cornice that adorns its borders. Designed originally by Josep Puig I Cadafalch , the house was purchased by chocolatier Antoni amatller costa who ordered for it to be redesigned and was worked upon by architect Antoni Robert. The facade is flush with ridges offset from the cornice, and so are the patterns on the facade. The central roof of the house is stained glass with modernist style. The building forms the trio of ‘mansana de la discord’ alongside Casa Batllo and Casa Leo Morera. The trio I have known for their refurbished properties and their sharply contrasting styles.
3. House Of Chimaeras, Ukraine
Władysław Horodecki, also known as the Gaudi of Kyiv, created a building that resembled a mixture of the classical and grotesque style of architecture. The building was originally designed as an apartment for his private use but later sold it due to financial pressures. The Gaudi factor of this building would be the chimeras and frogs and elephant heads. The house Is called the house of chimeras not because of the figurines but the style of the building being chimera or grotesque style. The levels of the building although not seen from the front can be visibly seen from the back facade.
4. Jubilee Synagogue, Czech Republic
Also known as the Jerusalem synagogue is a mixture of Moorish revival structure along with art nouveau design elements. The building was renovated later but still serves religious purposes. The exterior is a red and white stone cladding facade with bright contrasting colors and the interior reflects the exterior and having the same contrast levels and adding on to the grandeur with golden embellishments and horseshoe arches. The Moorish elements inside are overlaid with art nouveau patterns making the transitions between two styles seamless.