If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I am particularly keen on promoting Dutch Art Nouveau as the world wide consensus seems to be that “there is no such thing as Dutch Art Nouveau”. So when Max Put presented a seminar about the Art Nouveau in Amsterdam last February, of course I was in the front row of the audience. And now, he has published a beautiful book about the subject too.
Art Nouveau in Amsterdam 1895-1910
As mentioned before, the general opinion seems to be that Amsterdam is famous for its architecture, but Art Nouveau can hardly be found there. For this you have to go to The Hague or to cities like Brussels and Paris. Amsterdam was much too down-to-earth for this flamboyant style.
Max Put however paints a completely different picture in his beautifully illustrated book. He actually proves that Amsterdam is extraordinarily rich in buildings with Art Nouveau characteristics; that the Art Nouveau movement, which engulfed Europe around 1895, also influenced Amsterdam architects like François Caron, Eduard Cuypers, Joseph Herman, Johan Hartkamp. Yes, he argues, it even influenced Berlage! These Amsterdam architects too opposed the historicizing neo-styles and they too went in search of a “new art”, with nature as their source of inspiration.
The result can still be seen in Amsterdam today: dozens of houses, offices, shops, cafes and hotels feature the elegant lines of the Franco-Belgian Art Nouveau, the chic geometric decorations from Vienna or the typical Dutch design language, applied by architects like Berlage and De Bazel.
Put has divided his book into eight chapters. In the first chapter, he talks us through the historical context of Art Nouveau and points out how different scholars look at local variations. He quotes dozens of authors, and indicates how the perception of the Dutch situation has actually shifted from Nieuwe Kunst, which opposed the international Art Nouveau to Nieuwe Kunst, a local variety of Art Nouveau.
In the second chapter Put focusses on the situation in The Netherlands. He maps the Dutch design vocabulary. And he examins why Dutch artists were mentioned by international scholars from the 1950s through the 1970s while they are hardly ever mentioned in today’s studies about Art Nouveau.
Chapter three narrows our focus further down to the situation in Amsterdam. Put again quotes lots of other authors, leaving me slightly impressed with all the books he must have read on the subject. It makes me want to look up the books I didn’t know yet, and read them myself. And it makes one thing very clear: Put researched his book thoroughly.
The next chapters list the Art Nouveau architecture of Amsterdam: residential houses, office buildings, shops, hospitality and entertainment. Including original blue prints, drawings, contemporary photographs and new pictures, this book may be considered the new standard work about Amsterdam Art Nouveau. Put leaves the eye-candy for the final chapter: a beautiful summary about tiles and the Dutch ceramic industry.
In this very complete book, Max Put makes it clear that Art Nouveau architecture may have only flourished for a short period in Amsterdam, it is much more intense and colourful than is often assumed. If Nieuwe Kunst was the Dutch variety of Art Nouveau, Put argues, then Amsterdam was one of the main centers. I think he has more than proven his point with this fascinating book Art Nouveau in Amsterdam 1895-1910.
© All images courtesy of the publisher
Max Put regularly teaches about this subject at the Vrije Academie. His next seminar about Art Nouveau in Amsterdam is scheduled for 17 September 2020. More details are to be found here: https://www.vrijeacademie.nl/ons-aanbod/studiedag-art-nouveau-in-amsterdam/
Art Nouveau in Amsterdam 1895-1910
Language: Dutch (Nederlands)
Author: Max Put
Photography: Pim van Schaik
Publisher: Stokerkade Cultuurhistorische Uitgeverij
Available: 9 October 2020