Art Nouveau: a century-old art movement that still bewitches us

Uncover the history of the art nouveau movement and find out why the style of art is still an inspiration to creatives 100 years on
Uncover the history of the art nouveau movement and find out why the style of art is still an inspiration to creatives 100 years on

Between 1890 and 1910 a sociocultural movement travelled like wildfire across Europe and beyond. Art Nouveau captured the imagination of artists and creatives from far and wide with its beliefs that art can be anything and everything. This way of thinking was unheard of at the time and emerged, as all art movements do, as a backlash to the conventional art and ideals held by society at that moment. Creative minds called for reform, rebelling against the constrained and conservative way art was created and just like a garden coming into bloom after spring, a new movement was born.

The Art Nouveau style

Art Nouveau went against everything that came before it and coincided with the fall of three major empires: the Ottoman, the Austria-Hungarian and the Russian. Those who dared to go against the grain looked to nature for inspiration. Everyday objects such as lamps began to transform into decorative objects resembling tulips or iris flowers. Fabrics and wallpaper designs brought the outdoors inside with their nature-inspired patterns and soon, the upper classes began to sport Art Nouveau-inspired looks. Yet, while this art and social movement is famed for being exotically decorative and revolutionary, the philosophy of Art Nouveau was deeply opposed to the concept of “Art for Art’s sake”. Instead many of the leading names focussed heavily on the possibilities presented by Art Nouveau for spiritual renewal through art.

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Art Nouveau fine art for sale and the legacy it left behind

Today more than 100 years have passed since this electric moment in time, yet it continues to inspire artists to this day. Life at the turn of the 20th century was running on a machine and art and creativity were being used as food to keep the cogs moving. This spiritual crisis was a harrowing blow for artists who rejected the uniformization of their surroundings. They expressed nostalgia for nature and believed that art was the way to connect the soul with the creative “self” and Mother Nature. This gave birth to abstract flowing lines, the celebration of natural forms and spiritual symbolism. This legacy remains as captivating now as it did then. So much so that original works are sold for sky-high prices at auction. But, why is it so popular?

At the time, artists such as Alphonse Mucha, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Hector Guimard could sense a social reform and a retirement of the past’s stuffy ways, which in turn created a feeling of general unease. The result? A combination of fantasy and functionalism that was labelled as “Art Nouveau”. Today, when current affairs get grimmer by the day and the mass production of everyday items strips them of any feeling of soul, the fantasy world of Art Nouveau is a welcome refuge.

Finding meaning in the fine art posters of Art Nouveau

Today, the fine art posters of Art Nouveau may, at first glance, appear fussy and outdated. Yet, glance closer and you will be invited into a mythical world rich in symbolism. Art Nouveau art and works inspired by this art form draw upon the colourful stories of ancient Greek or Roman mythology, often idolising the feminine form as a Goddess. Her dynamic and wise appearance symbolises the power of female intuition and the divine feminine energy (responsible for love, beauty and fertility) that is being dimmed by industrial progress. Masks are also another common motif combining female features with the overarching concept of love and death (Ethos and Thanatos). The symbol of Medusa’s head and serpent-like hair was often used to poetically portray the transformation of art from a thing of beauty into a monster-like creature. A nod to the industrial revolution. Classical stylistic features are translated into unique colours, materials, volumes and forms. One of the most common inspirations is “light” and its sacred power which “fertilises” Nature. Today, we can reflect on the meaning incorporated in each artwork and call upon its energy to guide us through these turbulent times.

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Browsing fine art prints online and other ways to see Art Nouveau up close

At the time, Art Nouveau was seen as art for the people. This socialist approach allowed this movement to filter into everyday designs such as metro signs (Hector Guimard), advertising posters (Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha) and architecture (Gaudi). Many of these designs and works from the famous botanical artists of Art Nouveau are sold as replicas and adorn the walls of homes and social hangouts across the world. However, even if the original artworks are not visible, the essence of the movement remains very much alive. In the 1960s, the style evolved into a colourful psychedelic wonderland aesthetic. Today, people are rejecting the “Made in China” stamp of mass manufacturing and instead are choosing to incorporate crafts and works from independent artists into their homes. Thanks to platforms like Etsy and Instagram, art connoisseurs and enthusiasts can discover “Art Nouveau” through a new generation of artists and collect art for love, not money.

Vintage botanical illustration and its influence on Tropia Art

It is no secret that the Art Nouveau style has been a big influence on Tropia Art. Just one glance at Jil-Laura’s creations gives you a clue. The celebration of nature, hints of mythical symbolism and the adoration of the feminine, both energetically and physically are all subtle nods to the Art Nouveau movement. Prints such as “Crocodile Priestess” intertwine Egyptian symbolism with a powerful and ideal vision of the female. And, the image of the palm tree is an instant reminder of Alphonse Mucha’s poster illustrations. What’s more, the ethos of Tropia Art is deeply rooted in the ideals of Art Nouveau, celebrating the concept that art is for everyone and that each print created needs to serve a purpose in addition to beautifying the space it occupies. This is why each Tropia Art print is infused with sacred energy, reinforced by the symbolism that adorns its surface so that it can act as a talisman to protect and empower the viewer.

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