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Art Nouveau

( Originally Published 1955 )

A type of expression characterizing the work of many European artists during the 1890's and early 1900's. In its most typical form it makes use of flowing curvilinear lines and free, loose ornament based on such organic or growing things as flowers, branches and trees. Wild roses and nasturtiums seem to have been popular in this connection because of their sinuously flowing forms. Art Nouveau (literally, new art) was not especially popular in France but found its greatest expression in Central Europe and Britain as part of the mystical spiritual revolt against the overwhelming materialism of the time. Sometimes known as Jugendstil (from the Munich magazine Die Jugend, or The Youth) or the Yellow Book style as well as Art Nouveau, it marks the paintings of Eduard Munch in Norway, the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley and other Yellow Book contributors in England, the architectural ornament of Henry van de Velde in Holland and of Louis Sullivan in the United States, and the industrial art forms of the Wiener Werkstatte in Vienna. Its effect can also clearly be seen in the work of Hodler, Gauguin, Van Gogh and other painters of the period.

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