Since COVID-19 struck our planet in March 2020, we have been in various stages of lock-down and ordinary ways of exploring art have become virtually impossible. At first, we thought the lock-downs would be temporarily and we would soon be able to visit exhibitions and lectures as usual. But gradually, we have had to learn that this is not a short time problem with a quick-fix and museums will remain closed for a while longer in many countries. Lectures are still not possible. Conferences and art fairs keep being postponed. And our cultural life has shrunk to nearly non-existent.
After the first few months of despair though, the cultural scene began to explore other ways to stay in touch with their audiences. Following schools, cultural institutions developed lectures for online-education. Conferences were replaced by zoom-meetings and museums launched curator-talks online. Some museums even managed to make their exhibitions entirely available in 360° VR.
Another way of exploring Art Nouveau that I have learned to appreciate is listening to Podcasts. You can listen to Podcasts while you are cleaning, ironing, going for a walk, cycling, doing the dishes, or while you take a moment for yourself, and enjoy sitting in the sun. They are just wonderful!
In this post I will share some examples of these ‘new’ developments, hoping you will enjoy them and feel inspired to search for more. If you discover an interesting online event that you think is worth sharing, please let us know in the comments below.
Online exhibitions about Art Nouveau
A few years ago the Wolfsonian organized an excellent Modern Dutch Design exhibition. Nieuwe Kunst (New Art) was characterized by an emphasis on geometry and influenced by indigenous patterns and techniques of the Dutch East Indies colony (now Indonesia). Inspired by the British Arts & Crafts movement, Dutch designers adopted a commitment to handcraft and to their social role. This exhibition can now be viewed in an extraordinary Google Arts & Culture presentation. To visit, click here.
The second Google Arts & Culture exhibit I would like to share is called Women in Art Nouveau. This is a very interesting online exhibition from the Postcard Museum in Baud, France. As an object and muse, the Art Nouveau woman existed only in the eyes of the artists and not through herself. Even following emancipation, the illustrators placed her in a series of highly aesthetic representations that said nothing about the change in women’s status at the dawn of the new century.
One more beautfiul exhibition at the same channel is Art for the Streets: Art Nouveau Posters from the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The large-format, colourful posters familiar to us today have existed for only 150 years. With the invention of new printing techniques in the late 19th century, the poster soon evolved into the advertising medium par excellence. Before long, the boulevards were lined with posters and a “poster mania” got a grip on Europe and the US.
Also excellent to see is this exhibition From Revival to Liberty: Palermo and the Belle Epoque, curated by the Youth Committee of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO. Palermo was an essential destination during the great era of the Grand Tour, at the turn of the nineteenth century. It was favoured by the European aristocracy thanks to its natural beauty, splendid monuments and mild climate. Palermo blossomed in the expressive richness of Art Nouveau which was called Stile Liberty in Italy.
The Bröhan Museum in Berlin has made their exhibition on designer Luigi Colani accessible online both in German and English. The exhibition brings together for the first time the Art Nouveau and the design world of Luigi Colani by juxtaposing more than 100 of his designs with the Art Nouveau objects of the Museum collection. A wonderful curator-guided tour was released on InstagramTV as well. To watch that video, click on video at the end of this page.
In Art in Small Bytes 2.0 the Kirkland Museum breaks down a vignette grouping of period objects and artworks in the Museum into smaller pieces. This time they invite us to take a deep dive and “byte” into the Majorelle Bed vignette from Art Nouveau Gallery 4. The Museum’s Art Nouveau Gallery features three design movements: the Glasgow School from Scotland, Wiener Werkstätte from Austria and Art Nouveau from many countries, all from around the year 1900.
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery made their Mackintosh House available online with a Virtual Tour. The Mackintosh House is a meticulous reassemblage of the interiors from 78 Southpark Avenue (originally 6 Florentine Terrace), where Charles Rennie Mackintosh lived with his wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, from 1906 to 1914. Furnished with the Mackintoshes’ own furniture, all to Mackintosh’s design, and decorated as closely as possible to the original, these beautiful rooms provide rare insight into the Mackintoshes’ home life.
They have also produced a beautiful video about the Mackintosh house…
Later this year, the William Morris Gallery and the National Museum of Krakow will present their collaboration in the exhibition “Young Poland, the Polish Arts & Crafts Movement (1890-1918)”. Before that exhibition opens though, they have published an extensive catalogue with the same name. And because a book presentation was impossible during lock-downs, an impressive presentation of the book (and indirectly of the exhibition of course) was made available online. This 2 hour video is well worth watching!
Online Art Nouveau Exhibitions in 360° Virtual Reality
The Horta Museum in Brussels has worked hard to reconstruct the Maison du Peuple. (Build a palace that would not be a palace, but a house where air and light would be the luxury so long excluded from the workers’ slums – Victor Horta) During a long yet interesting symposium several of the involved professionals have explained how they worked towards the reconstruction of this monumental building. The complete symposium was recorded and all videos can now be watched online.
As a result of the comprehensive studies that were elaborated during that symposium, a 3D Virtual Reality tour of the demolished Maison du Peuple has been made possible. The video below explains how it works. For the videos of the symposium and the actual 360° VR tour: click here.
Under the title Horta@Home the Horta Museum has actually organised a lot more online activities during lock-down. To discover all, check out this page in their website.
In Rio de Janeiro, at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, a large exhibition about the life and work of Alphonse Mucha opened 18 November 2020. The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections. The first two parts hightlight Mucha’s contribution to Art Nouveau in Paris. The third section explores how his art developed after his return to the Czech lands, which culminated in his late masterpiece, The Slav Epic. In the final section, the exhibition looks at the legacy of Mucha’s style through examples of works by graphic artists from the 1960s to the present day. Because of the lock-downs, the exhibition has been made accessable with a 360° VR tour. Click here to visit.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art displays its collections in adifferent atmosphere than most other museums. The art is arranged in “salon style” with fine art (paintings and sculpture) shown in the same galleries as decorative art. Furthermore, paintings and objects are sometimes composed as vignettes where furniture is grouped together with a period radio, lamp, phone and other accessories, as if you walked into someone’s vintage home. To visit one of the galleries, click here.
Also the Nederlands Steendrukmuseum (Dutch Museum of Lithography) presented a wonderful exhibtion on Alphonse Mucha, with a focus on his lithograpic art. Despite the corona restrictions, the museum received a record number of visitors, but eventually had to close their doors as well. To allow more people to enjoy their exhibition they have now release a 360° VR experience. You can visit this VR exhibition by clicking here.
Podcasts about Art Nouveau
Otis College of Art & Design has developed a series of Podcasts about The History of Art. Dr. Parme Giuntini discusses the movement and ideas of Modern Art which changed our perspective on art and art making. The lectures start in France, around 1850, with Realism – and end in New Yok City in the mid 20th century with Abstract Expressionism. Lecture 12 explains the context of the Arts & Crafts movement, while lecture 13 discusses Art Nouveau.
RadioWissen – Bayerischer Rundfunk has created the Podcast ‘Jugendstil, Natur als Kunst, Schönheit als Revolte’ for those who can understand German. Die frei wuchernden Formen der Natur waren Inspiration für Künstler und Architekten, die starre Formen hinter sich ließen wie Schmetterlinge die Larvenhülle. Der Jugendstil war geboren… If you click at the picture on the right, you can listen to the Podcast on your Apple-device. But this Podcast is available for your browser as well.
At Random History of Belgium, M. van den Eynde created a few Podcasts about Art Nouveau in Belgium. In Episode 35 the focus is on the life and works of architect Victor Horta while the next Podcast focusses on Henry van de Velde. There is also one episode dedicated to the artist James Ensor. Podcasts are in English. Clicking on the picture on the right will lead you to the Podcasts on your Apple device, while above link shows the Podcasts in your browser.
At Join us in France Travel Podcast, episode 97 concentrates on the Art Nouveau movement and the specifics of how this art movement manifested itself in France. It discusses the difference between Art Nouveau and Art Déco, Hector Guimard in particular, the Art Nouveau of Daum, Gallé and Lalique in the city of Nancy, and where to go when your are visiting Paris. Episode 225 Exploring the City of Nancy should be nice for you as well. These Podcasts feature Elyse Rivin, former professor at the Fine Arts School of Toulouse; they last little over an hour.
At DecArts we can listen to a lengthy and fun chat with Ria Murray, a Master’s candidate at the Parsons-Cooper Hewitt program, about Hector Guimard’s stylistic innovations in standardized design. Ria has studied hundreds of Guimard’s drawings at the Cooper Hewitt archives and has some really interesting stories to tell about her discoveries. The podcast lasts about 45 minutes and covers basically Guimards whole career and his main achievements.
At The Jewelry Journey you may enjoy listening to episode 7 in a series of Podcasts as this episode focusses on Art Nouveau jewelry. What you’ll learn in this episode: How the Art Nouveau movement relates to the history of art jewelry and arts & crafts. Why France was looking for a different design style after the Franco-Prussian war, and how the view of women shaped the movement. And why unusual materials such as enamel were prevalent and popular in Art Nouveau jewelry.
At KunstHoop, Eliane Oding interviews Jan de Bruijn, curator at the Art Museum in The Hague. The podcast is in Dutch only. “Het Kunstmuseum Den Haag kent een lange verzamelgeschiedenis op het gebied van toegepaste kunst en heeft een toonaangevende collectie Art Nouveau. Op de laatste officiële dag dat we nog ‘Gemeentemuseum Den Haag’ mogen zeggen praat ik met Jan de Bruijn, conservator toegepast kunst over deze collectie en specifiek over Art Nouveau.”
French radioshow La Compagnie des Oeuvres has broadcasted a series under the title L’Art Nouveau et au-delà (Art Nouveau and beyond). In four episodes they explore Art Nouveau through the works of Victor Horta, Hector Guimard, Henri Sauvage and Antoni Gaudi. All 4 episodes are available as Podcasts (in French only). To hear Francoise Aubry, former curator of the Hortamuseum talk about Victor Horta and Art Nouveau in the first Podcast, click here.
Online Magazines about Art Nouveau
Did you know that the Art Nouveau European Route has been publishing a beautiful magazine since 2003 and listing all issues online, for the whole world to read, free of charge?!? Anyone can subscribe to their magazine Coup-de-Fouet by becoming a member of the Art Nouveau Club here; but as said, you can also read every issue online here.
NEW! A brand new free online magazine has been launched in March 2021 with the goal of propagating Art Nouveau. The essence of the Gazette Passion Art Nouveau is made up of articles intended to highlight the people who created, magnified, promoted the Art Nouveau in its time and those who, today, perpetuate its brilliance. The magazine will highlight craftsmen, artists as well as collectors and people who make Art Nouveau shine on social media. The Gazette is published in 3 languages: French, English and Japanese.
Interesting Art Nouveau related Newsletters to read during the lock-downs
Samuel Provost’s Newsletter on Art Nouveau Craftwork & Industry. Since November 2020, Samuel Provost has published excerpts on his research regarding the French Art Nouveau craftwork and industry, with a focus on the École de Nancy in general, Émile Gallé and the Établissements Gallé in particular. Click here to read the previous newsletters.
The Two Red Roses Foundation is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, preservation, and public exhibition of important examples of furniture, pottery and tiles, lighting, woodblocks, textiles, photography, architectural faience, and fine arts from the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Since 2015, the foundation has been working on realising a new Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in Florida, USA. The Foundation has also been publishing a newsletter for quite a few years. Click here to read the previous newsletters.
More online features to learn about Art Nouveau from your own home:
The complete catalogue of the permanent exhibition at the Budapest Art Nouveau Museum György Ráth Villa has been made available online.
This detailed itinerary through the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (a museum of Fashion, Arts and Design) includes extensive information about their Art Nouveau galleries. Enjoy the collection by clicking here and scrolling down to Art Nouveau/Art Déco.
Even though Europeana created this online Art Nouveau exhibtion already a few years ago, I am sharing this information with you still. With all the lock-downs and self-quarantining, this exhibition is a real treat for Art Nouveau aficionados. So head over to Europeana now!
Curators Guide through the Luigi Colani exhibition at the Bröhan Museum: