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Art Nouveau Vases

Art Nouveau, or "New Art," was closely related to the late 19th-century English Arts and Crafts movement, which stressed the presence of the artist’s hand in their pieces. Art Nouveau echoed this theme with its reliance on organic motifs.

Born from a general rejection of Victorian era design, Art Nouveau’s pioneers instead celebrated the beauty of the natural world through subtle curves and entrancing palettes. Alongside these features, Art Nouveau designers stressed smooth surfaces, in part to encourage the organic rhythm of their pieces to overtake the viewer.

Most Art Nouveau potters worked predominantly in either clay or glass to create rich color effects upon their surfaces. It was during this ceramic glazing process that Art Nouveau designers grew most creative, developing novel techniques such as the marbleized iridescent finish now characteristic of so many Art Nouveau pieces.

Quick Facts

  • Though the influence of Art Nouveau reached well into the 20th century, its peak years are often considered 1880-1910
  • One of the biggest innovators in the field of Art Nouveau vases was Frenchman Emile Gallé. He perfected a technique known as cameo glass, which gave his glassware a marvelous opacity reminiscent of a traditional cameo
  • Art Nouveau was an aesthetic approach that extended beyond personal luxury and decorative goods. From the architecture of Antonio Gaudi to the subway stop awnings across the city of Paris, Art Nouveau design was omnipresent

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