Women and Art Nouveau

Women and decoration

Who does not know about Mucha? One of the most famous Art Nouveau artist that worked in Paris and  popularized on his placards an image of a distant woman with highly curved hair. His work for Sarah Bernardt is the most well known but his work for his nation (he was Czech) as a painter is also really great  (Obecni dum in Prague et the painting of the "Czech epic")

Representation of woman is sometime mixed with animals in a way of a modern sphinx. Two examples : Lalique jewels with woman-dragonfly jewels or the Engel Apotecke (see below))

The most frequent representation of woman on Art Nouveau buildings is just a head, like a kind of mask, popularized by German jugendstil. But woman representations on Art Nouveau buildings can be much richer using sculpture (bas relief : see below Praha and Montevecchio, ceramic : see below pictures of Dannerbergplatz, Zatecka, Kohlmarkt), frescoes or sgraffitos (bd des combattants, Engel Apothecke, Schaerbeck, Bruxelles), tiles (Casa Galimberti).

Gallery :

Women that counted for Art Nouveau :

Frances Mac Donald - Mackintosh

Frances is one of the very few Art Nouveau feminine artists. She contributed largely to her husband's work.

Loïe Fuller

Loïe was an American dancer who danced in Paris around 1900. She danced playing with scarfs, turning them at high speed and playing with light and transparency. Her show was so famous that she had her own exhibition theater in the 1900 world fair in Paris. This building by Henri Sauvage is another piece of Art Nouveau.
A lot of Art Nouveau sculptors were influenced by here aura. The most famous representation of Loïe Fuller is by Raoul Larche.

Sarah Bernardt

Around 1900, Sarah is one of the most well known actress in the world (she is French but she played theater in Paris, Europe and even in the United States). She is independent and lonesome which is very unusual at that time. She played the most important roles of theater including male roles. In 1894, at Christmas time, Mucha was helping a friend artist to finish correction work by replacing him in a printer office. When the office received an urgent order for a placard for the 'Gismonda' play to deliver for the new year, Mucha was the only artist available. His design of Sarah Bernard standing while playing 'Gismonda' was so new that it created an enormous buzz... and the begining of an international carrier for Alphons Mucha. With this success, Mucha became protected by Sarah Bernardt and later became friends. He designed 9 placards for Sarah as well as decors or costumes. The work of Mucha followed the international tours of Sarah.

©1993-2012 Frank Derville
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