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Art Nouveau Style

Art and illustration can have dramatic influences on an individual's perception of the world. A time indicative of this idea was certainly the Art Nouveau period in the years spanning the end of the nineteenth century and begging of the twentieth. Famous illustrators during the period made a profound influence on designers using organic shapes that were largely a departure from previous design techniques. Design in the nineteenth century was largely centered around revivals of older styles. What today is referred to as Victorian architecture, were actually several different design styles that are often clumped into a single category. Largely inspired by various architectures from the English Renaissance, the Victorian period simply recycled older ideas and continued a period of rather rigid yet somewhat unique designs. It was in a sense a conservative period, where designed stayed within a traditional boundary, conforming to certain societal norms. However, for every period of tradition, comes a period of revolution. Toward the end of nineteenth century, various illustrators across the world began experimenting with organic designs. Specifically designs that resembled plant forms, with a particular emphasis on flowering patterns. The original contributors to this style hailed largely from France and Japan. France, then the worldÎęs second largest empire, was the center of the avant garde of nearly every facet of fashion and design. French artists began to rebel against regurgitating European design styles and began to move in a new organic direction. On the other side of the globe, Japan had emerged as the only non-Western world power, much to the astonishment of Europe. Europeans suddenly found themselves fascinated with Japanese style and culture. Yet JapanÎęs rise to prominence coincided the WestÎęs exploration of something which the Japanese had embraced for centuries, organic design. The Japanese, long practicing Zen Buddhism, placed an enormous emphasis on harmonizing oneÎęs life with their natural surroundings. It was not long before there was a complete blending of the Eastern and Western influences of the movement, and soon what today is easily recognizable as Art Nouveau was common place. This style that was now universal among the worldÎęs illustrators was quickly found to translate well to architecture and ornamental design. Often with visually striking results. Organic lattice works that interwove glass and steel became the signature of the period. The availability of steel and glass at the end of the nineteenth century was instrumental in driving the movement. Due to its lightweight compared to iron and ability to be manipulated relatively easily, steel formed the literal structural backbone of the movement. The design technique was quite remarkable for its time. For the perspective of an average person, the style would have been exciting, as glass structures were bright and appealing departures from the stone clad norm of the time. This was a revolution of sorts for the many who found appreciation for the newfound brighter world. Art Nouveau was not simply a design style, but was a way of life for many. The intricate illustrations that formed the basis of Art Nouveau's design philosophy inspired fashion as much as architecture. The World at large however began to move at a much faster pace. As construction techniques evolved with the rapid pace of technological development, Art Nouveau appeared too dated. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, Modernism had supplanted the style among architects and designers.