13. Art Nouveau

Primarily a movement of the applied arts - interior and furniture design, architecture, book production and illustration - Art Nouveau, with its sinuous, serpentine lines and exotic, sensuous imagery, is among the most immediately recognizable and widely appreciated of artistic styles. It has important roots in English Romanticism, with the elongated forms and emphatic design of Blake and Fuseli, and later in the floral designs of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. On the Continent influential late Romantic painters like Moreau and Puvis de Chavannes were similarly important. By the turn of the twentieth century, the style had stretched its tentacles across Europe and America. Echoing the almost morbid opulence of the French Symbolist writers, or of Poe in America, the decadent illustrations of Beardsley in England, the rippling architecture of Gaudí in Spain, Horta in Belgium, Endell in Germany, and the extravagant furnishings of Tiffany in the USA all exemplify the 'high' Art Nouveau manner.

An important center of Art Nouveau was Belgium, and one sees affinities with the style in the submarine imagery, coral-like color and languorous atmosphere of James Ensor, who was associated with the Belgian Art Nouveau creators. Similarly, in Paris, Lautrec's cabaret posters contributed strongly to the style, as did the work of the Austrian painter Klimt. Affinities also exist between northern European Expressionism and Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil as it was called in Germany). Aspects of the work of the Norwegian Munch, for example, can be seen as consonant with Art Nouveau.

The Art Nouveau influence on design has been a lasting one, often reaching into unexpected areas, such as the animated films of the Disney studios, for which the Art Nouveau illustrator Kay Nielsen worked late in his career.