|"Bieres de la Meuse", a French beer advertisement by Alphonse Mucha|
The Art Nouveau movement started in Paris, France around the turn of the 20th Century. There was a sort of "cafe culture" in Paris at the time, in which people spent much time relaxing at outdoor patio cafes, seeing dancing shows, going to the theater and just enjoying the splendors of a modern urban lifestyle. As a result, many examples of Art Nouveau are, in fact, posters advertising various products and performances.
|This poster for the play Gismonda, starring Sarah Bernhardt, is what convinced the theater company to hire Mucha.|
Some of the commons characteristics that can often be found in works from this particular style are organic, thick and thin lines, female forms (LOTS of those), fluid motion and asymmetrical composition, to name a few. What I particularly find engrossing is the use of color and shading on the human forms. The hair in particular usually has a very faint gradated shift from one part to another without the tedious detail of rendering realistic patterns and shades. The same could also be said of the skin tones of the women in most of these works. Another thing about the hair that I like is how each strand doesn't overlap over another one, they just intersect, leaving only the outlines, and it is unknown what is above or below.
|This is a great example of the gradated hair and skin tones as well as the "intersecting" hair strands.|
There are also many great examples of Art Nouveau sculpture and architecture the world over, but I won't get into that here. I just wanted to focus on the print medium, and what better way is there to do that than to just show you?
|These two are a pair of prints titled "Dawn"(top) and "Dusk" (bottom).|