Art Nouveau, Art Deco
Art Nouveau appeared in the last decades of the 19th century in reaction against the classical style that artists find sclerosing and boring. These artists, in a desire for innovation, will create original shapes, use new materials, and free themselves from the rigidity of classical rules. Jean-Michel Othoniel, gives this excellent definition of Art Nouveau: "In Art Nouveau, you're free to play, to have fun, not to give a damn, to be unconventional: it's a sonorous, happy, musical art, this is not a silent, austere art."
If this movement, in a will to claim its difference, is way too diverse to place it in a uniform style, its consistency remains in its wish of going back to nature, being aware of its beauty, complexity and generosity.
"What flowers should you wait, and what fruits, if the florist and the winegrower ignore watering wells, if the set designer misunderstands nature, which is a source of fresh, a returning of the sap, a rejuvenating morning bath, if the artist does not practice the cult that seeks and gets the inspiration, meaning he neglects the contemplative adoration of the living beauty that is spread everywhere? " Emile Gallé, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1897
The patterns that are shown are usually flowers, plants, trees, insects or animals. With this in mind, old materials such as wood, stone are lovingly married to new ones as steel, glass. For each one, artists have pushed their research to the extreme to get the best. These include the Ecole de Nancy, a great influence center of Art Nouveau around which so many major figures orbit, such as Mougin brothers and their stoneware works.
The Ecole de Nancy rehabilitates blazing Gothic and rococo. Directed by Emile Gallé, and Victor Prouvé, it gathers Louis Majorelle, Daum, Ernest Bussiere, Eugene Vallin, Emile Andre, Hokkai Takashima among others. Takashima's presence in Nancy (1885-1889) will have an impact on the Oriental theme of many works. The Ecole de Nancy is defined by its founders as the provincial alliance of artistic industries. It brings together many disciplines such as architecture, glassware, woodwork, bronze, earthenware, ceramics ... Its decline is marked by Gallé's death in 1904 and ended in 1909 with the International Exhibition of eastern France, where artists show their last joint exhibition.
Art Deco was also born from a reaction against the naturalism of Art Nouveau. It finds its inspiration ancient Egypt civilization, ancient art of Mayan Central America, tribal art, surrealism, futurism, constructivism, but also Neo-Classicism.
The Bauhaus, famous German school founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius that has contributed significantly to the Art Deco, tends to bring together fine arts with crafts such as sculpture, painting or architecture. Its slogan "Art and Technology, a new unit" expresses a desire for modernity. Artists aim for simplicity, geometry and structural coherence. The unnecessary ornaments are abandoned, in order to reveal clean lines, straight shapes inspired by the cubist painting (Pablo Picasso), and bold colors that remind of Fauvism (Henri Matisse).
Surprisingly, the Art Deco movement brings together two very different trends. The first one is for a wealthy elite seeking luxury, perfection and unique pieces. The second one deals with industrial production for a mass clientele. We find both those two sides in Mougin brothers works which were reproduced in many copies while they were hired in Luneville. They published artists such as Geo Conde, Auguste and Gaston Goor, Victor Guillaume, Henri Guillaume and André Legrand.