Some of the greatest art ever created shows itself in the form of architecture and design. I believe it is important to discuss the influence art nouveau and art deco had on architecture and design because they are commonly overlooked. The artists of these time periods expressed themselves through building designs and the furniture and decorations that adorned them. Although the eras of these two periods of design are side-by-side, the influences, style, and artists of art nouveau and art deco are very different. Despite this, art nouveau and art deco both had a great influence on architecture and design at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Art nouveau is the first period of art that came along between these two eras. It lasted from the 1880’s until the 1910’s. . The period was in protest to Industrialization and mass production. Art nouveau means "new art", labeled by The Paris Art Gallery, Maison de l’Art Nouveau. Nature’s curvy, flowing lines influence Art Nouveau. The pieces hold a sense of fluidness and fantasy, evident in the natural elements seen in the works, such as flowers and vines. Most of the works created were used for ornamentation in buildings and design. As well as in decoration, the works of art nouveau artists may also be seen in books as illustrations and advertisements. One of the most influential artists of this time is Alphonse Mucha, known for his advertisements for Sarah Barnhardt and various mass-produced products. Another well knows artist is Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany lamps are both popular and prized, even today. Both of these artists took lines and forms straight from nature to accent their works. This is more evident in Mucha’s works, since he uses actual flowers and stars to accent his pieces, where as Tiffany only uses the inspiration from nature’s fluid lines to accentuate his pieces.

On the timeline, art deco follows art nouveau; it’s period being from the 1920’s until the 1930’s. Art deco was a rebellion against art nouveau. Although it adopted art nouveau’s curved lines, art deco also used geometric shapes. Art deco artists designed their works so that they could be mass-produced, unlike the works of art nouveau artists. The greatest influence of art deco came from the cubist movement and received its name from Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs es Industriels Modernes, which was a Parisian design exhibition in 1925. Art deco pieces were mostly furniture, pottery, jewelry, and fabrics. The pieces were elegant and mad of both industrialized materials, such as plastic and chrome, as well as expensive and lush materials, like ivory and silver. One of the greatest architectural achievements of the art deco period is the Empire State Building, located in New York City. Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, an architectural firm, designed the building. Even today, the Empire State Building survives as a classic example of art deco design.

Art deco and art nouveau were both very important to design movements during the early twentieth century. The architectural and design movement started with art nouveau. Since art nouveau was a rebellion against mass-production, most of the pieces of furniture were hand-made. This caused many of the pieces to be expensive, making works only available to the very rich. It was because of this that art nouveau lost the public’s interest. Art deco shortly followed to come and pick up where art nouveau left off. Art deco artists borrowed the smooth and flowing lines from art nouveau, but also incorporated geometric designs. Their pieces were designed specifically to be mass-produced, where art nouveau was hand-made. The works of art deco crafters often gave a sense of speed and industrialization, mirroring the attitude of the time period. Comparatively, art nouveau artists were successful in shying away from the Industrial Age, where art deco artists were successful in utilizing the Industrial Age to their advantage.

The influence that art nouveau and art deco had on the twentieth century is very evident through architecture and design. Their marks can be seen on buildings, furniture and decorations. Art nouveau and art deco are commonly overlooked in this aspect, which is why I found it necessary to write about them. The two periods have so many differences, and yet they borrow so much from each other, that they are also alike. The expressions the artists create through these styles of art leave the viewer with a sense of awe and beauty.

Not really some kind of Aesthetic Smackdown, [Art Nouveau (New Art) was the last blossoming of the Victorian Style, most say from around 1880; and 1910 has been a date mentioned as the end of this. The Arts and Crafts Movement had an American version of that reaction to mass-produced manufactured items, e.g. Mission Style; but its finish has been declared as late as 1920.  From flowery to simple, to design oriented to simplicity again.

Frank Lloyd Wright's style evolved from his predecessor, the other famous architect: Louis Henri Sullivan. These buildings and decor exhibit this transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. In Art, Impressionism developed into Cubism, and we went from Matthew Brady's daguerreotypes to Mann Ray's surrealistic photographs. 

Art Deco came about officially in 1925, a derivative named from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, France. But it really came to become American with the Empire State Building in 1931, but it was the last great example of 'the sky's the limit' attitude of Art Deco (certainly different from more 'down to earth' Art Nouveau), when the Stock Market Crash of 1929 precipitated the Great Depression. Then, the 'Streamline Style', came into vogue, more horizontal and austere. Miami Beach is famous for remnants of this, and I lived in a planned community from the public works of FDR, in Greenbelt, Maryland.>

Art Nouveau is classified by art historians as the first truly modern style: "Art Nouveau was the first self-conscious, internationally based attempt to transform visual culture through a commitment to the idea of the modern" (Greenhalgh, 18). Art Nouveau artists were the first to postulate that the tremendous changes of the Industrial Revolution and 19th Century would also change not only the style, but the nature of art. Art Nouveau is not Victorian, but represents a strong break with Victorian artistic traditions. (What we commonly call "Victorian style" is referred to by art historians as Second Empire or Baroque Revival.)

Art Deco is not just visually different from Art Nouveau; it also lacks the transformative nature of its predecessor. Art Deco reflects and imitates the visual landscape of modernism without attempting to change it.

Ironically, in French Art Nouveau is called Modern Style! (an English term).

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