"Wisteria" table lamp, Tiffany Studios
Noted for its organic, sinuous, and seductive styles, the Art Nouveau movement in modern art and design—called the New Style—developed out of the arts and crafts and aesthetic movements. Centered in France at the very turn of the last century, it was celebrated at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris and quickly spread to England and America.
This richly illustrated seminar led by art historian Bonita Billman explores Art Nouveau’s origins, its identifying characteristics, and chief creators. Though it flowered for only a decade or so, art nouveau has had a long-lasting influence and popularity.
Billman, who is retired from the department of art and art history at Georgetown University, lectures for a variety of organizations in the mid-Atlantic region.
10–11:15 a.m. Origins and Characteristics of Art Nouveau
Art nouveau was promoted by art dealer Siegfried Bing and had its most spectacular showing at the World’s Fair in Paris, where great names in design like Tiffany exhibited their work. Bing showcased art nouveau in his own pavilion of concept rooms at the exhibition.
11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Art Nouveau in France
France excelled in the New Style. René Lalique, later famous for his glass, was a designer of sinuous mixed-media jewelry. Majorelle and Gaillard made furniture, and Mucha and De Feure painted.
12:45–1:15 p.m. Break
1:15–2:30 p.m. The New Style in Britain
Like Bing, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, a dealer in Asian objects d’art, championed the New Style. Many conservative Britons rejected it for its perceived decadence and “Frenchness,” but his influential London store Liberty and Co. became synonymous with the popular style. In Scotland, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald created their own unique interpretation of art nouveau.
2:45–4 p.m. The New Style in America
Ironically, the artist most associated with art nouveau was not French, but American. Louis Comfort Tiffany, who trained as a painter and worked as an interior designer, turned his attention to glass in the late 1880s. His Tiffany studio produced stained glass, glass mosaics, and most especially, art glass.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.