Art Nouveau - French for New Art - is the style of, as I like to call it, decor, ornament, making things look beautiful and enchanting, just for the sake of beauty and enchantment, without emphasizing on a functional - for the lack of a better word - side of the elements used.
Art Nouveau was one of the few styles that encompassed everything; design arts, architecture, furniture and product design all the way to fashion and graphics. Even till today, Art Nouveau influenced and inspired motion graphics is found everywhere.
The identifying visual quality of the Art Nouveau style is the organic plantlike lines. Freed from gravity, it flows with elegant grace as it defines, modulates, and decorates a given space. Vine tendrils, flowers, birds, and the human female form were a frequent motif from which this fluid line was adapted.
In earlier three-dimensional design, ornaments often were mere decorative elements applied to the surface, but in Art Nouveau the basic forms and shapes were formed by, and evolved with, the design of the ornament. This was, to say the least, revolutionary. It unified structure, decoration and an intended function.
One of the most awesome Art Nouveau pioneers is the czech artist Alphonse Mucha - who designed the above shown piece. Mucha just loved using the female figure in his work - it may be the most reoccuring element. Mucha’s women project an archetypal sense of unreality. They’re exotic and sexy and and sensuous, and yet maidenlike.
This is one of my ultimate favorite pieces of Mucha’s work; a poster for Job cigarette papers, 1898. Mucha just delighted in filling up the total space with animated form and ornament.
Although looked down at by some designers, no one can deny that Art Nouveau was, and still is, one of the most influential styles.
I’m usually on the team of people favoring functional design, just using what you need in order to communicate a specific message across, going with the slogan of: Use it, or lose it.
But to each their own. I cannot deny the beauty of Art Nouveau inspired work. It’s a delight to look at.
One of my favorite contemporary artists is Gabriel Moreno. His work is obviously directly derived from the forms and visual identity of the Art Nouveau period. Just a little more hip and modernized.
Art Nouveau; FTW.