Friday 18 November 2011

An afternoon of Art Nouveau

I dream of having one of these glass lamps in my home!

Art Nouveau , Jugendstil, Stile Liberty - whatever you want to call it, this is the one art movement that really delights me. My love affair with Art Nouveau started back in 1995 when I was working on my GCSE Art coursework. I went up to London to the V&A and was instantly amazed by the beautiful collection of Art Nouveau silver and pewter wear. I used this as inspiration for a clay mirror frame in an Art Nouveau style. Ever since then, Art Nouveau has been my one and only passion in life. I don't know why I love it so much, but just looking at a piece of Art Nouveau furniture, silver wear, jewellery or a painting, fills me with joy.

I think it is something about the sweeping lines and decorative elements, which at the same time are able to look simple, clean and beautiful. I also like the fact that Art Nouveau rarely uses expensive materials. I have always preferred silver to gold, and a piece of oak furniture with copper hinges and handles looks far more beautiful to me than a piece of ornately carved mahogany.

When I was flicking through one of my Art Nouveau books the other day, I was excited to discover that one of my favourite pieces by my favourite artist, Alphonse Mucha, is on display at the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe (along with many other beautiful items). Luckily, that is only an hour's drive from where I live, so we popped over the border into Germany for the afternoon. 

"La Nature" by Alphonse Mucha, 1900.

There it is! The fabulous bronze bust, which is purported to be of Sarah Bernhardt. I had seen several photos of this work: "La Nature" in books, but never in the flesh, so to speak (and she does show quite a lot of flesh!). It really does look beautiful up close.

I love the flow of her hair and the head piece.

Apparently there are several versions of this sculpture. I like the petrol effect of her skin in this one.

I wasn't allowed to use flash in the museum, but I hope my photos will give you an impression of this fabulous work by Alphonse Mucha and maybe entice you to discover Art Nouveau for yourself.

I plan to have an Art Nouveau room in my home one day :)

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