Friday, March 10, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ Art Nouveau to Art Deco

Art Nouveau (New Art) had a limited reign in the art world: from around 1890 to 1914, straddling the turn of 19th/20th centuries. It died with the outbreak of the first world war.

Art Nouveau, as a movement, was evidence of a breaking away from the then traditional, rather dry art styles of 19th century painters. Artists began to feel that art should be more universally appreciated. They set about putting art into everyday objects, into architecture, jewellery, furniture and furnishings. The movement flourished throughout Europe. The term Art Nouveau was, originally, the name of a Paris shop, which somehow attached itself to the whole art movement.
The hallmark of Art Nouveau is its connection to nature, and organic patterning. Sinuous trailing vegetation, flowing shapes, beautiful women, delicate coloring.

Astrologically, it could be said that the movement's reign coincides with astrological cycles of the outer planets. Pluto had just moved into Gemini in 1890, at 2 degrees of that sign. It remained in Gemini until 1915. In addition, Neptune, in 1890 was at 5 Gemini, and remained in the sign until the turn of the century. Pluto and Neptune in Gemini were strongly in evidence in the communal atmosphere then, as Art Nouveau came to the notice of the general public. The proponents of this art style, though, had mostly been born when Pluto, and perhaps Neptune, were both transiting Taurus. It was the influence of Taurus on the artists' sensitivities, but Gemini on the public's sensitivities at work that helped propel Art Nouveau forward.

Some of Art Nouveau's best known artists have already been featured on this blog: Alphonse Mucha, Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gustav Klimt, Toulouse Lautrec.

At the outbreak of war, 1914, the communal atmosphere and peoples' attitudes changed. The style now known as Art Deco came next - an arty evolution. Art Nouveau declined rapidly . After the dreadful bloodbath that was World War I, when so many young men perished, a new attitude, new designs and new approaches to almost everything emerged. Art Nouveau's delicate organic curves and beautiful images gave way to angular, geometric design in architecture, furniture and graphic arts. One might describe this as Art Deco being the Yang to Art Nouveau's Yin.

Some Deco designers drew on classical motifs from Egyptian or Greek art and sculpture, and merged these with their new, sleek, brittle and urban designs. Art Deco spanned the years between the two World Wars, approximately 1920 to 1940, and its influence is seen most easily in the architecture of that period. While artists proper experimented with cubism, abstract and surrealist art, the architects and poster painters left a clearly identifiable imprint of the style known as Art Deco.

During the period of the first World War Uranus had transited Aquarius, its own sign, brewing up change of all kinds - change which wasn't able to permeate everyday life until the war had ended , with Uranus' transit of Aquarius in its last degrees. As Uranus moved into Pisces, that new creativity, brewed during the Aquarius transit, was given its head. With Neptune (Pisces' ruler) in flashy,sophisticated, urban Leo, this new style was born.

Once you "get your eye in" it's easy to spot architecture from the Art Deco period. There's a lot of it still around in American cities, even as far afield as Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was no doubt the influx of money from oil in the 1920s and 30s which brought on a flurry of new stylish building in Okie land. New York's skyscrapers are good symbols of Art Deco, of course, as are old movie theaters to be found in almost every American town. This building in a little town called Purcell about an hour's drive from our home, caught my eye. Husband obliged me with a photograph.

In Europe and Britain it's not quite as easy to find this style because of the destruction during World War II. There are still some examples though. I've spotted private houses or blocks of apartments with Art Deco DNA. Some Art Deco cinema frontages have survived on both sides of the Atlantic - that shown below is from 1937, in Normal, Illinois.

For many years, back in Yorkshire, I lived in an apartment, a block of four built in 1938, attached, originally, to a cinema with a clearly Art Deco frontage. The apartments, back then grandly called "Mansions" definitely had elements of Art Deco : flat roof, long narrow horizontally-paned windows. The whole structure was destroyed by fire in 1996, along with all our belongings, and any photographs of it I possessed.

A few Art Deco style houses can still be found in English seaside towns, not sure why that location was favoured, usually they're painted white. I used to fantasise that one day I'd find an Art Deco house I could afford, and live in it in my old age. Instead, I've found myself in Oklahoma in a house with not even a whisper of Art Deco about it. Ah well, maybe in my next life!

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