A PHILOSOPHY FOR MOVING FROM THE 19th CENTURY INTO THE 20th CENTURY
Art Nouveau, which is usually known as Jugendstil in Germany is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art, especially used in the decorative arts, that was most popular between the years of 1890 to 1910. When it was first developed neither Art Nouveau nor Jugendstil was the common name of the style. As it spread to different places it was given different names. Those two names evolved from their use at Siegfried Bing’s gallery Maison de l’Art Nouveau in Paris and in the magazine Jugend in Munich, both of which promoted and popularized the style. Art Nouveau was defined as a “total” art style, one that embraced architecture, interior design, graphic art, and most all decorative arts including jewelry, textiles, furniture, household silver and utensils and lighting. Its style also influenced the fine arts. The philosophy of the style centered around the idea that art should be a way of life. And for many well-off Europeans it became just that, In the two decades in which the style flourished, it was possible to live in an art nouveau-inspired house that contained art nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics including tableware, jewelry, cigarette cases and other objects used in one’s daily life. Artists pursued their desire to combine the aspects of the fine arts and applied arts, even for utilitarian objects.
The city in which I live experienced a building boom during the twenty years in which the Art Nouveau style was popular. Whole sections of the city must have resembled a construction site at the turn of the last century as block after block of apartment houses were built in the Jugendstil style. Unlike almost all other German cities, there were two cities that were spared the heavy allied bombing during World War II because the allies wanted to establish their post-war headquarters in them and thus they needed to preserve some of the infrastructure. Those two cities were Heidelberg and Wiesbaden. Consequently Wiesbaden has many excellently preserved Art Nouveau buildings, whole neighbourhoods of them. In the mid 1980’s I walked through some of those neighbourhoods taking photographs of building facades and doorways with an analog Minolta camera. When I can find the time I plan to digitize those photos. In 2004 I took just a few photos with the Nikon D70 I then had and present them here today to give a small impression of just how beautiful some of the architecture is. It is one of the reasons I have always enjoyed living here.
We begin with the German Adler, the eagle, the country’s national symbol. Here the architect has placed it prominently over the entrance.
Here, placed over an enclosed balcony, is a beautiful example of the Art Nouveau style, with a date of 1901 for the construction.
Faces are also quite often a motive that is used above windows and doors.
In this photo I have cropped and placed one above the other, two sections of a panel situated over the building’s windows that depicts two hunting scenes. The intricate work in the detail of the leaves and the grapes is amazing. Not to mention the fluidity of the animals in motion.
Another expressive face, made unique with a heart on the forehead and an interesting owl perched underneath.
Above the doorway to this building, a tower and a face are depicted. Note the detailed lines of the stones in the tower. The scroll-like representations and the almost Celtic patterns on the sides are typical of this kind of Art Nouveau design.
And I close this presentation with a photo of two Windhunde (Grayhounds) serving as the support for a balcony. Art Nouveau was an amazing vehicle of expression in the transition from the 19th into the 20th century.
All photos taken in 2004 in Wiesbaden, Germany.
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