Encouraging the organic forms and patterns of Art Nouveau to flow from one object to another, the movement’s theorists championed a greater coordination of art and design. A continuation of democratic ideas from Britain’s
, this impulse was as political as it was aesthetic. The movement’s philosophical father, the English designer and businessman
, defined its main goals: “To give people pleasure in the things they must perforce use, that is one great office of decoration; to give people pleasure in the things they must perforce make, that is the other use of it.” Morris disdained the working conditions bred by the industrial revolution and abhorred the low-quality bric-a-brac created by factories and amassed in homes of the era.
He insisted that functional design be incorporated into the objects of everyday life, and his mix of aesthetics and ethics rejected the heavy ornamental qualities of the 19th century, specifically the cumbersome, almost suffocating excesses of the Victorian period. His ideas manifested as many distinct national flavors. In Scotland, there was the rectilinear Glasgow Style; in Italy, Arte Nuova or Stile Liberty, after the London firm Liberty & Co.; Style nouille (“noodle”) or coup de fouet (“whiplash”) in Belgium; Jugendstil (“young style”) in Germany and Austria; Tiffany Style in the United States; and in France, Style Metro, fin-de-siècle, and Belle Époque. For some, Art Nouveau was the last unified style; for others, it was not one style, but many. As with all art movements up until the late 20th century, it was dominated by men.
The Leaders of Art Nouveau