The bad thing about it is that I'd previously taken time to write quite a lot about Art Nouveau, but that's now all gone in favour of - well, more dynamic marketing-type speak now! If you want to read our new blurb, you can take a look here.
You can guess what's coming.... shame to waste it so here it is in all its glory!
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art, especially in the decorative arts, that was most popular from around 1890 through to the outbreak of World War I. The name 'Art Nouveau' is French for 'new art', also known as Modernisme in Spain, Jugendstil in Germany (German for 'youth style' or the 'style of youth'), Modern in Russia and Secession in Austria.
The evolution of the poster was due to the development of printing techniques that allowed for cheap mass production and printing, including notably the technique of lithography which was soon followed by chromolithography, which allowed for mass editions of posters in vibrant colours to be printed.
By the 1890s the technique had spread throughout Europe. Jules Chéret is considered to be the father of the Art Nouveau advertising poster. He is said to have introduced 'sex' in advertising or, at least, to have exploited the female image as an advertising ploy. In contrast to the often muted colours representing the seedier side of Paris night-life painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, Chéret's bright colours and laughing feminine figures brought a new conception of art as being of service to advertising (a bit like Simon Cowell using the TV to sell records!).
Posters soon transformed the thoroughfares of Paris into the art galleries of the streets. Their commercial success was such that some of the artists were in great demand and theatre stars personally selected their own favourite artist to do the poster for their upcoming performance. The popularity of poster art was such that in 1884 a major exhibition was held in Paris.
By the 1890s, poster art had spread to other parts of Europe as well as in Paris, advertising everything from the theatre, actresses and the performing arts through to bicycles and bullfights.
What I probably see as the epitome of Art Nouveau are the posters of Alphons Mucha, who I wrote about a day or two ago. His work is extremely ornate and detailed although his colours are perhaps more muted than Chéret's happy, dancing ladies. Art Nouveau was a lot less ornate in both the UK and US, Aubrey Beardsley and Dudley Hardy leading the way here, whilst Edward Penfield was the prime Art Nouveau artist in America.
So many names and lovely pictures - hard to choose which one to show but I've settled on a Chéret.
This one, Fête des Fleurs, is interesting as the background is very much in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec with its muted colours, whilst the foreground is pure Chéret.
By the way, this is an example of the quality of the images on our Art Nouveau DVD - another 249 on there!