Art Nouveau Lectures Talks

                                     Peter Behrens                                 THE KISS                                  Gustav Klimt


A Series of Six Integrated Lectures

The lectures form an integrated narrative but each one can be viewed as a "stand alone" lecture.  This topic is offered as a series of one, two, three, four, five or six lectures to suit differing schedules.The six lecture series has been used as an educational course.

1: Series Overview and the Early Influences

The 18th C. mysticism and imagery of Henry Fuseli and William Blake fell into obscurity to be rediscovered by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the 1840s.   Art Nouveau was strongly influenced by Japanese wood block prints and the art of North Africa and Arabia

2: The Foundations

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed in the late 1840s as a protest against Establishment Art and was influenced by Blake, Medievalism and the Romantic Poets.  William Morris and the Arts and Craft Movement also rose at this time as a reaction against badly designed, mass produced products from the Industrial Revolution.  It is in this period that the curvilinear lines of the “whiplash” image of Art Nouveau are first seen.


3: The Absorption of Meaning

Art Nouveau drew on, and was often difficult to distinguish from, other art movements of the period.  The main ones were Symbolism and the Decadence movement, both of which originated in mainland Europe.  In England, Aestheticism (led by Oscar Wilde) arose as a cult of the pursuit of beauty for its own sake.  This “amalgamation” of styles, based on “Art for Art’s Sake”, produced the distinctive but varying forms of Art Nouveau.

4: Emergence and Revolution

The first recognisable images of Art Nouveau appeared in Paris in the 1880s as artistic revolution swept across Europe.  These artistic revolutions included  the Berlin “uprising”, the Vienna Secession and many others.  They were a mixture of art and literature based movements with many radical magazines, some of which lasted into the 1960s.

5: Application and Exploitation

Art Nouveau influenced painting, interior design, architecture, the graphic arts, jewellery etc.  It laid the foundations of Art Deco, modernism and industrial design.  Examples are drawn from all over the world to show how the style was applied artistically and commercially.

 6: Demise and Transformation

By the 1910s, Art Nouveau appeared everywhere and interest in it rapidly declined.  World War I saw the demise of this elaborate art form which was replaced by the simpler and more stylish Art Deco.  This lectures explores the artistic influences that led to the development of Art Deco and its impact and legacies.


To see Ian delivering a ten minute clip of the Art Nouveau  lecture to an audience of 100 people, please click here