INTRODUCTION TO
EUROPEAN ART NOUVEAU

The unruly Continental offspring, Art Nouveau (the new art) became the first popular 20th-century style, an effete successor to the more rustic Arts and Crafts. Inheriting the great traditions of French color and form, fed further by Europe's craze for Japonisme, this turn-of-the-century style replaced a dependency on historical design formulae with organic form derived largely from nature. Familiar motifs included curvilinear elements, sinuous contours of tendrils and floral arabesques, whiplash lines, and later, exaggerated embellishment. Art Nouveau responded well to inlaid wood veneers, wrought iron and glass. The name derives from a Paris gallery, L'Art Nouveau, opened in 1895 by Siegfried Bing. In Italy it was called Stile Liberty or Stile Floreale; in Germany, Jugendstil (youth style). It reached its highpoint in the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. While it tried nobly to reconcile art and industry, it was essentially an artist's style and failed to satisfy the demands of mass production.