As a genuine Art Nouveau lover, the Horta Museum has been high on my wish list for quite some time. And last week I finally got to visit the former house and atelier of Belgian Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta (6 January 1861 – 8 September 1947).
Now, I know that camera’s were not allowed in this museum but I really wanted to share this amazing museum with you and I still had my phone in my pocket! Hopefully these pictures will convince you to travel to Brussels and visit this inspiring museum yourself.
The first picture I want to show you is of the skylight above the stairwell. I have seen pictures from this angle in many books, but I never understood what I was looking at. Now that I have visited the museum, I finally understand: The ‘opening’ on the left side is actually a mirror reflecting the mirror on the opposite site, creating a seemingly endless space.
The house was designed in a – for those days – innovative way. Horta created a variety of perspectives and sought to allow light to circulate. He simplified supporting structures through the use of metal arches, tie-beams and girders, all of which were unconcealed. The structures and decor were closely linked.
I just loved the color of the walls in the bedroom of Simone, Horta’s daughter. It gave me a warm, Mediterranean feel.
The academic system which dominated art education from the 17th to the 19th century, underpinned the widespread belief that media such as painting and sculpture were superior to crafts such as furniture design and silver-smithing. The consequence, many believed, was the neglect of good craftsmanship. Art Nouveau artists wanted to overturn that belief, creating a “total work of art,” or “Gesamtkunstwerk”, which resulted in buildings and interiors where every element partook in the same visual vocabulary. Horta’s house is a perfect example of a “total work of art”. Since it was his own house, he could put all his creative energy in the design and he was not limited by the budget or tast of his customer. Horta applied new techniques and materials and paid attention to every little detail.
In 1932 King Albert I of Belgium conferred on Horta the title of Baron for his services to architecture; four of the buildings Horta designed have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And also Horta’s current ‘neighbours’ are proud of what he achieved as this graffiti is clearly a tribute to a highly respected artist.
Apollo Magazine: At home with Victor Horta, the master of art nouveau
Horta Museum Brussels
Victor Horta – Woonhuis Amerikaansestraat 25 Brussels
Victor Hortas iron architecture – a structural analysis 2010
Unesco World Heritage List
Wikipage Horta Museum English
Wikipage Horta Museum Dutch