Die Jugend 1896Art Nouveau is an art movement that was very popular in the 1890’s up until the first years of the 20th Century. The term means ‘New Art’ in French and in other languages it is known as “Jugendstil” (Germany), “Sezessionstil” (Austria), “Modernismo” (Spain), and “Floreale” or “Liberty” in Italy. Art Nouveau has been applied to all of the decorative arts, architecture, painting and sculpture.

Art Nouveau was charged with an ideology to break the standards of the 19th Century Academic Art and to bring down the barriers between the fine arts and applied arts. It was a movement to combine all the arts in an attempt to create new art based on natural forms that could be mass-produced by the technologies of the industrial age. Additionally, the artist should be able to work on various different approaches from painting to metalwork and everything in between. 

A central element in Art Nouveau is the organic, plant-inspired motif which is often expressed with floral patterns and themes. Such themes are highly stylized with flowing curved forms. Other primary themes are birds, insects and femme fatales. The use of abstract lines and shapes as well as the lack of vivid shading is applied in order to eliminate the sense of depth thus most Art Nouveau paintings are presented in a two-dimensional manner.

Many Art Nouveau artifacts such asArt Nouveau Champenois vases, bowls, plates, lights, various furniture etc are beautiful objects but not necessarily very practical to use. During the first years of the movement, advertising posters were introduced into art providing a new space for the exhibition of this new art. Additionally, architects like Antoni Gaudí (although he has his own distinct style) have stretched the limits of design into astonishing and magnificent forms.

Art Nouveau remains an extraordinary form of art until today.Countless artifacts from the period 1890-1914 are constantly reproduced and many contemporary artists identify themselves as Art Nouveau artist. It is indeed the boldness, the sense of adventure and the desire to revolt that makes Art Nouveau such a pleasant trip for the senses!
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Northern exposure: artists explore theme of alienation for Nordic biennial

Norwegian duo Trollkrem's performance using face paint (Image: courtesy of Trollkrem)
What is Nordicness? What does alienation mean in todays political landscape? These are some of the issues tackled in the ninth Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, Momentum, in the small Norwegian town of Moss, which opened last weekend (until 11 October).
 
The biennial has been organised by five curators from throughout the Nordic countries. For this edition, it was Ulkria Flink from Sweden, Ilari Laamanen from Finland, Jacob Lillemose from Denmark, Jn Ransu from Iceland and Gunhild Moe from Norway.
 
This editions theme of alienation has been interpreted in many ways, from political or social alienation to the seemingly alien flora and fauna around us, and the refugee crisis. The work on view spans painting, sculpture, installation and sound.
 
The two main venues of the biennial are the industrial warehouse space Momentum Kunsthall and the converted house, Galleri F15, with other works installed at venues throughout the town. John Duncans 40-minute-long sound work Scare (1972) is installed at the towns 1930s cinema and Jone Kvies bronze sculpture of a kneeling astronaut (Carrier, 2006), which faces outward through a warehouse window.
 
On entering the Kunsthall, the first work is a huge installation from the Norwegian duo Trollkrem that invites viewers to put on a swimming costume, get into a Jacuzzi and watch a virtual reality film. The piece is also linked to a performance on the beach in which sylph-like sea characters paint visitors faces and feed them seafood.
 
Many of the works at the Kunsthall take scientific themes and forms. The Finnish artist Jenna Sutela has two works, a primordial swamp that bubbles and speaks of cell reproduction. She has also installed a living wall of moss and spirulina in the stairwell for Sporulating Paragraph (2017), which will grow and change for the duration of the biennial.
 
On the second floor of the space is Being Encounter (2017) by the Austrian artist Sonja Bumel, who works with microbes and the microbial body, exploring the permeability of our bodieswhere we begin and where we end. The work consists of cultures growing within a jelly-like blob, which viewers can lie in and handle.
 
We are swimming in biology but we cant feel it, Bumel says.
 

At Galleri F15 works range from H.R. Gigers space-age chairs to Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012), Wael Shawkys video of puppets enacting events during the Crusades, and Patricia Piccininis disturbing sculpture of a faceless fleshy creature, Atlas (2012).
 
In trying to tap in to the common consciousness, the biennial shows us tentative ideas of the future from the old with the gothic horror of Giger to the new idea that, through microbes, we are in fact all connected.

Freemasons reveal their secrets and Art Deco home

Freemasons' Hall, United Grand Lodge of England, 2013.
Notoriously considered a mysterious and secretive society for men, Londons Freemasons have taken in their first artist in residence. Hidden in plain sight amongst central Londons innumerable imposing buildings, close to Covent Garden, is the Freemasons Hallthe headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and a fine example of Art Deco architecturewhere the South African painter Jacques Viljoen has spent the last four months capturing masonic life in the lodge. Organised as part of the celebration of the tercentenary of Freemasonry, Viljoen has had unprecedented access to the historic organisations headquarters. His paintings include a portrait of a father and son, a lodge room and a masonic still life. Looking at these paintings we get a glimpse of the world behind closed doors, says the curator Roberto Ekholm.
 
Viljoens works will go on show in the exhibition Rough to Smooth (24 June to 1 July) alongside nine other guest artists, one of whom is a Freemason himself. Martin Taylor, a member of Spelhoe Lodge, chose to paint the faade of the 1933 Freemasons Hall, which captures the installation of the Victoria Cross memorial for fallen Freemasons in the First World War, before it was unveiled in April. You can also catch Viljoen live in action painting at the halls open day on Saturday 24 June.

Rare drawing from Brian Sewell’s collection to feature in Wyndham Lewis survey

Wyndham Lewis's An Oriental Design (around 1900-05)
The largest ever survey of the British Modernist artist Wyndham Lewis, which opens this week at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, will include a rare early drawing once owned by the late art critic Brian Sewell.  

The pen drawing, titled An Oriental Design (around 1900-05), is the earliest work in the show and was made while Lewis was a student at the Slade School of Art in London. [The drawing], with its small scale and dense cross-hatching, is Lewis attempt to copy Augustus Johns new Rembrandt style, says the exhibitions curator Richard Slocombe in a statement. Not a great deal of work survives from the artists early career, Slocombe tells The Art Newspaper. 

The drawing was sold for 6,250 (with fees) to a private collector at a Christies auction in September last year. Sewell, who worked at the auction house for nearly a decade as a young man before turning his hand to art criticism, built up his sizeable collection over several decades. It included works by Andrea Sacchi, Joseph Anton Koch and John Craxton. 

The Lewis exhibitiontitled Life, Art, War (23 June-1 January 2018)is the first retrospective in 40 years dedicated to the controversial artist and writer who founded Vorticism, the UKs only "true avant-garde movement", according to Slocombe. 

For more on the exhibition, see Manchester gets first comprehensive retrospective of Wyndham Lewis in 40 years .

Three to see: New York

 Renée Stout's Pretty Wings, Part 2 (The White Wall) (2010)
Figure painting is alive and well in the work of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, on view in her New Museum solo show, Under-Song for a Cipher (until 3 September). Seventeen new, large-format oil paintings are installed on blood-red coloured walls that match the intensity and strength of the works. The paintings portray imagined people, like a man holding a falcon and a woman arranging her hair. The paintings are compelling, not only in the assuredness and autonomy of their subjects, but also because Yiadom-Boakye is skilful and expressive in capturing posture and gesture. You can feel the graceful strain of the dancer elongating her body in an arabesque in Light of the Lit Wick (2017) and the relaxed hang of a mans wrist in Brothers to a Garden (2017), in which he appears to be in conversation.

While the Washington, DC-based artist Rene Stout typically makes mixed-media works involving her alter-ego (a fortune-teller and healer named Fatima Mayfield), her current solo exhibition, titled Between Two Worlds (until 30 June), includes only paintings. Stoutwho was trained as a painterwas invited to show her work at Sean Scully's Chelsea studio (447 West 17th Street), for which she took what she calls the Sean Scully Challenge for the past five months, pushing herself to work in an abstract style (but not all the works in the show are new). Some of the paintings in the show, like You Said I Had A Mean Streak (2016), are entirely abstract, while others are mainly figurative, like Brown Jar (2013), a trompe-loeil depiction of a bottle that might hold medicine. But they all give off a mystical, somewhat dark feeling, which is present in Stouts work in any medium.

Head to the Matthew Marks gallery to catch Ellsworth Kelly: Last Paintings (until 24 June), which shows the artists last nine works, completed before he died in December 2015, aged 92. The concise exhibition neatly reveals Kellys unwavering commitment to his exploration of the power of colour and form across his entire career. Some works have many colours, like Spectrum IX (2014), made of twelve joined vertical panels; others are made of joined monochrome panels, like four works made in black and white. In a subtler contrast, the only work with a single panel, Diagonal Curve (2015), which is all white, stands out against the gallerys white walls, which reveal themselves to be a different colouralmost like Malevich's Suprematist Composition: White on White (1918).

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