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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Latest Art News

Who will paint Serota?

Nicholas Serota. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
The National Portrait Gallery in London is commissioning a
portrait of Nicholas Serota, who steps down as director of the Tate at the end of
May. Selecting the artist will only take place after he leaves and has a little
more time. Unlike most eminent figures who are immortalised for the gallery,
Serota knows hundreds of portraitists and will have his own views on who might
be appropriate. For the chosen artist, it will be a slightly intimidating
prospect to have to capture the features and character of the retiring Tate
director (unless it is a mega-star, such as David Hockney). Will he feel it should be
a British artist for the UKs National Portrait Gallery? And most fascinating
of all, will Serota opt for a fairly conventional portrait, or go for a more
conceptual artist? Watch this space. 

Ashley Bickerton gets retrospective break from Damien Hirst

Ashley Bickerton; 2013 (Image: courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin; New York and Hong Kong)
Ashley Bickerton is to get his first major retrospective in the UK thanks to his friend and long-time collector Damien Hirst. The show of work by the Bali-based US artist, which is due to open in April at Hirsts Newport Street Gallery in south London, follows numerous disappointments with other institutions. Bickerton tells us that five planned museum retrospectives have fallen through. I am too eccentric; I didnt pass muster with the boards, he says. The beautiful thing about Newport Street Gallery is that theres only one person on the board.


Hirst met Bickerton in New York in the late 1980s, where Bickerton had becomefor a very short perioda celebrated member of the Neo-Geo movement, alongside Jeff Koons and Peter Halley. My initial reaction was: Who the hell is this obnoxious little monster? Bickerton recalls of Hirst. But I have a soft spot for extreme cases and horror quickly gave way to pleasure, and we soon became really close.

The majority of the exhibition (21 April-20 August), which features 50 works spanning more than three decades, is drawn from Hirsts collection. The show will include examples of Bickertons consumerist assemblages from the 1980s and pieces from his early and garishly coloured Travelogues series. It will also include works featuring the blue man, a recurring character in Bickertons paintings who is loosely based on Gauguin and whom Bickerton describes as a parody of the archetypal 19th-century anti-hero. The artist is also creating new pieces for the show that will unite the disparate directions his work has taken.

Fabulous dancing Warhols on Oz museum’s Mardi Gras float

The Mardi Gras float will feature a giant gold shoe surrounded by dancing Warhols. Photo: Eric Riddler

The art world is going gay this month, with the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney at the forefront of LGBTQI celebrations. The gallery will get a fabulous makeover, partnering with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras over the next week. On 1 March, the gallery hits the homosexual heights with Queer Art After Hours, a celebration of gay art and performance. (music comes courtesy of DJ Seymour Butz with star turns by The Huxleys and Cocoloco). But the highlight is the gallerys Warhol-inspired Mardi Gras float which will take to the streets during the famous equality and pride parade on 4 March. The float will feature a giant gold shoe that will be flanked by dozens of dancing Warhol lookalikes, says a press statement (Andy would have loved it). 

Federal arts funding is on the White House’s hit list

Trump meets Trudeau: the Canadian prime minister (left) has boosted funding for the arts, but the new US president is expected to cut federal arts funding and to eliminate programmes (Image: © REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
Federal arts funding, ignored by Democrats and Republicans during the presidential campaign, is finally getting attention. Americas cultural agencies, including the two national endowments, for the arts (NEA) and for the humanities (NEH), are operating on money appropriated until April. There is much talk that the next omnibus budget bill will provide no money for these agencies, essentially closing them.

This would throw the baby out with the bath water. The culture agencies do plenty of fine work. Yet for many reasons, good and bad, they are a target. Having been badly burned in the 1980s and 1990s, they avoid the most incendiary projects about sexuality or faith. If anything, in the past few years, they have worked quietly and deliberately, as if tip-toeing around controversy but also around big new ideas.

This might be part of their problem. The money doesnt seem to make big, promising things happen, things that would not happen otherwise. Looking at their list of grants, their main goal seems to be survival. They have been so beleaguered over the years, so pummelled, that their mission each year is to dodge the fatal bullet.

I suspect the agencies will emerge from the April budget fight with dramatically reduced budgets and possibly with a mission better aligned with Washingtons new order. Here are some basic ways to help these agencies both to stay alive and relevant and to achieve focused and better results.

Lets start with quality. The first things to go should be projects in which the principal goal is to feed the beast of racial, gender or class dogma, regardless of whether the art is, well, any good. Art has to be of the highest quality. That means intellectual rigour and a curiosity and openness about different points of view. It also means far fewer shows anchored in identity. Political fads arent facts and theyre not good scholarship.

I would create a new focus for cultural grants on arts infrastructure. I know fundraising for renovations is difficult, but the lack of bricks-and-mortar essentials seriously hinders any organisation, regardless of creative vision or ambition. A big priority of the new administration is infrastructure, and better arts infrastructure is a good philosophical fit. Im a big believer in matching grant programmes with governmental cultural support, leveraging private support to get basic infrastructure improvements done rather than deferred.

I was a curator and directed a distinguished museum, the Addison Gallery, dedicated to American art through the centuries. Its the art of our country. It does make sense to make American culture first among equals in getting federal help. In the museum world, there are few institutional funders solely dedicated to American art, so I know that the need is there and often unmet.

Serious collection-sharing will never happen without a federal push. Big, encyclopaedic museums in places like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston have thousands of objects in their vaults, many great but rarely seen. Long-term loanswithout expensive loan feesto good museums throughout the country, in places that have never had the money or collector base to generate great permanent collections, is a solid goal that the NEA can achieve. The big museums will hate the idea. Well hear cries of: Too much work and Why should we send our things to Milwaukee or Phoenix or somewhere in Alabama? Well, why should great art sit in storage when it could be seen by millions in places not blessed with historic wealth?

Savvy and entrepreneurial thinking at federal level can do much to promote collaborations among arts organisations. The federal culture agencies can help them to connect the dots where partnerships are possible, here and abroad. French and American regional museums have collaborated on collection- and idea-sharing for years. Partnerships among American and Italian or Spanish or Indian museums and other arts organisations can and should happen, but probably will not without the brokering or networking role that only federal leadership can provide.

Longer-term, there are many federal agencies supporting culture. Many do similar things and each has its own back-of-house and compliance bureaucracy. Its not unusual for arts organisations to apply for money from multiple agencies for the same project.

The State Department has a cultural and educational outreach department that, in my experienceand putting it diplomaticallyvastly underperforms. The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian support arts organisations with money. Consolidating and focusing these many agencies would liberate money to go directly to needy and worthy organisations.

I think its a bad idea to throw in the towel on federal arts funding. Theres a new sheriff in town. Lots of talk about resistance might make for noble feelings, but it wont prevent the federal culture agencies from becoming the earliest casualties in the war.

Brian Allen is the former director of the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts 

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