Just what is the difference between Art Nouveau and Art Deco?
Well the time period to begin with. Art Nouveau can be said to have originated in the 1880's and lasted until the start of the First World War in 1914 (although there was an overlap with some items in the art nouveau continuing to be made well into the 1920s). It derived its name from Maison de l'Art Nouveau, an interior design gallery opened in Paris in 1896. The style had many different names throughout Europe being known as Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionstil in Austria, Modernista in Spain, Stile Liberty and Floreale in Italy. It was a reaction against the historicism which had plagued the 19th century. Art Deco (or Art Moderne) was itself then a reaction against the Art Nouveau style and was very popular in the 20's and 30's but wasn't actually termed Art Deco until the 1960's deriving its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes. It was an elegant style of cool sophistication in architecture and the applied arts, which ranged from luxurious objects made from exotic material to mass produced, streamlined items available to a growing middle class. When we talk about the style of the two movements here are a couple of examples of Architecture that make it very easy to see the difference. The first is a detail from a Paris Metro entrance designed by Hector Guimard, completed around 1900 and is a perfect example of French Art Nouveau.
It has almost an organic feel to it appearing more to have grown than to have been created by man. The second example is the Chrysler building in New York, designed by architect William van Alen and built between 1928-1930.
Its style is a fusion of Egyptian (the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen was a major influence on the Art Deco style) and Mayan influences and contemporary art deco styling. When we refer to articles made for the home the most obvious (and well known) examples of the Art Nouveau style are the glass of Emile Gallé and Tiffany, the furniture of Majorelle and Liberty, the metal wares from the German manufacturer W.M.F. and once again Liberty. The sculptures in bronze and ivory by Chiparus and Preiss, the exquisite glass of René lalique, the English Odeon cinema’s of the 1930’s, and the pottery of Clarice Cliff, typify the various styles and movements that come under the umbrella term of Art Deco So to sum up my very brief look at these two styles, think fluidity, organic and whiplash motifs for Art Nouveau and streamlined, geometric, shiny and "modern" for Art Deco. Of course not everything made during these periods can be called Art Nouveau and Art Deco. A vase from the year 1900 isn’t automatically described as being Art Nouveau. A table isn’t an example of Art Deco just because it was made in 1930. Why not? Well, as I said in the title, it’s all about the style... 20th Century Decorative Arts