Peacock vase produced by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, ca. 1901 (Cooper Hewitt)
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.
9:30–10:45 a.m. The 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 exposition.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Art Nouveau in France
France excelled at the New Style. Rene 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.
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. The New Style in Britain
Like Bing, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, a dealer in Asian objets d’art, championed the New Style. Many conservative Britons rejected the style for its perceived decadence and “Frenchness,” but his influential London store Liberty & Co. became synonymous with the popular style. In Scotland, architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald formed their own unique style of Art Nouveau.
3–4:15 p.m. The New Style in America
Ironically, the artist most associated with art nouveau was not French, but American: Louis Comfort Tiffany. 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.
Billman is an affiliated faculty member in the department of art and art history at Georgetown University.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)