Art Nouveau for Earth Day

Art Nouveau for Earth Day

[Abstract design based on curv... Digital ID: 1553695. New York Public Library

Abstract Design, Public Domain, New York Public Library

With today being Earth Day, what better day to feature one of my favorite design styles—Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau (French for “new art”) was a very organic and naturalistic period celebrated in the late 1800s-early 1900s. It’s considered a “total art,” meaning the style was adopted in architecture, interior design, glass, ceramics, jewelry, clothing…you name it.

I absolutely love Art Nouveau in graphic design!

Clémattes. Digital ID: 818620. New York Public Library

Clémattes, Public Domain, New York Public Library

“The essence of Art Nouveau is a line, a sinuous extended curve found in every design of this style,” describes William Hardy in his book A Guide to Art Nouveau Style.

In layman’s terms, curved lines are the quintessential characteristic of Art Nouveau. Free flowing swirls, motifs of flora and fauna, muted colors—you got those and you’ve got Art Nouveau.

[Original soft front cover.] Digital ID: 96814. New York Public Library

Original soft front cover, Public Domain, New York Public Library

Interestingly, many Art Nouveau artists were literary figures as well. The expressive way they integrated text and imagery was a forerunner to graphic design as we know it today.

Mucha Exhibition Brooklyn Muse... Digital ID: 1259223. New York Public Library

Mucha Exhibition Brooklyn Museum, Public Domain, New York Public Library

To know Art Nouveau is to love Alphonse Mucha. He’s the ultimate representative of the period and his work is awesome.

Paul Greenhalgh, a leading scholar of the Art Nouveau period, describes Mucha’s depiction of women as “one of the most enduring of the style.”

Glamorous. Feminized, with long flowing hair. Mucha used emotion to capture the power of the female consumer, a successful theory used in advertising still today.


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