ART NOUVEAU: The Movement of Change

Written By- Annu Taneja

[Guided By- Ms Monika Malik]


Art Nouveau is an ornamental style of art which took place around 1890 till 1910 in parts of Europe and United States. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that this movement was a rebel to the 19th century art and design and usually dominated the amalgamated version of those style. The term “Art Nouveau” originated from the description of work of an artist group Les Vingt and S. Bing, in Paris who named his gallery L’Art Nouveau. In fact, the style of art nouveau gained its popularity in different names at different places, like, Jugendstil in Germany, Stille Floreale in Italy, etc.

During the late 18th century and early 19th century, the world witnessed the union of east and west. It was during this time when famous Japanese woodblock prints like flowing lines, Spiral lines, Twirls inspired the western artists so much that it resulted in the outbreak of ART NOUVEAU MOVEMENT. There are possibilities every now and then that everyone has admired art nouveau style without even knowing it. In French the word means “new art”, which perfectly describes the movement in just two words. Art nouveau was hugely criticised before gaining much acceptance during its time period. It was insulted by German critics to the extent of calling it “tapeworm style”.

There is a common notion circulated amongst artists that art nouveau was inspired by patterns, swirling flowing lines and florals found in the background of the Vincent van Gogh’s artworks, whereas, some believed that it took its root from William Morris’s and his art and craft movement, which is why it is difficult to recognise the first work of art of this movement.

Tinted Glass By William Morris – Image source:

This movement was truly considered a “modern” movement. Even though the inspiration was taken from past but the art portrayed was contrary and realistic. It created such a huge impact that it influenced the masses in every field including fashion, architecture, interior and applied arts. It was the time when modernity was speeding up at an unmatchable pace. It was the new age of steamships, airplanes, telecommunications, electricity, moving films, mass industry, urbanisation, etc., some of which was a result of industrial revolution. It was a time where several inventions where happening simultaneously, the speed of change was unacceptable frightening for some. It was a very brief movement and was soon taken over by Art Deco.


The elements of design played a very important role in the style of art nouveau movement. Art nouveau was driven towards the natural style art and architecture. Art nouveau was not restricted to paintings it also brought modernisation in everything from interior & architecture to even graphics and other forms of visual art. The style of art nouveau was characterised by asymmetrical, and rising line and falling patterns in the form of lines, which took its shape in the form of flowers, buds and different motifs inspired by nature. The use of long organic lines with moderate and dark colours stood out to be its signature.

The main object in every art work was the portrayal of new empowered modern women of femininity as her virtue. The colour palette consisted of muted colours including, olive green, carnation pink, muted yellow, and periwinkle blue. Simplicity, soft colours and detailed two-dimensional art became the style of Art Nouveau.


Art nouveau was a decorative style which took its inspiration from nature all around. It soon became a way of promoting designs for the designers. As we moved from the Edwardian era to the “new art” movement where everything was changing, fashion was changing too. There was no glimpse of tight corsets and bodices, instead loose-fitting flowing gowns were making its mark. Designers and artists used to collaborate to promote each other. If a poster was made, the model would definitely be seen in a designer dress and Alphones Mucha was the most famous artist of that time who took commercialism to another level.

Image source:


The famous artists belonging to this art movement made a huge contribution with their individual styles. Alphones Mucha, Gustav Klimpt, Aubrey Beardsley, are some of the famous names.


Alphones Mucha was an icon involved in paintings, theatre, furniture, jewellery and he used to do a lot of commercial work in the form of posters and advertisements. He loved the portrayal of the new image of a women which represented changing times representing women femininity and empowerment at the same time. one of his famous poster “GISMONDA” is shown below:

Have a look at his famous poster:


Klimpt was first recognised before art nouveau, with his style of decorative painting of historical figures and scenes. He was recognised as an art nouveau artist in 1897 when he formed a group to bring modern European art to Austria. His most recognizable work is “The Kiss” which was one such art piece of his which included a man. Klimpt also focused on mostly portraying women in his artworks.

Have a look at his famous artwork:


Aubrey Beardsley was a favourite illustrator of this time. He was famous for his impressive impact on art of illustration. His most famous yet controversial illustration was “The Dancers Reward (Salome)”

Have a look at his famous illustration:

The Dancers Reward (Salome)- Image Source:


Although art nouveau lasted for 20 years, it left its unbeatable mark so much so that art nouveau has stood the test of times and never fails to find its relevance even today.

Many designers take their inspiration from art nouveau and portray beautiful floral organic prints on the runway especially Alexander MC queen. A lot of inspiration has been taken in the sense of silhouette from Paul Poiret. Designer Anna Sui is always seen taking inspiration from the movement especially her Spring 2010 collection and Spring 2015 collections in which she beautifully portrayed key elements and style of this movement. It has encouraged designers to look around the nature and find inspiration, instead of searching it in books.

So if you are looking for some inspiration, look around and observe the nature around you, it will surely help you reach the best version of your creative mind.

What is life without florals anyway? Thanks to Mucha for leaving behind so much inspiration.

Until then don’t forget to like, share, comment, and follow!!!

10 thoughts on “ART NOUVEAU: The Movement of Change

  1. It was really very informative. Never thought that even art has its history and that too, an amazing one! Great job ❤️ Keep posting such informative ones 💥🙌🏻


  2. This is amazing! Reading about Fashion history in this blog has been an absolute delight! Looking forward to more of these blogs!


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