Art 3 – Mucha, Klimt, Art Nouveau and the Femme Fatale – Due 5/2

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Read both of the following 2 summaries about Art Nouveau, and summarize the 3 most important points of the style (the look of it) and the  three most important points about the historic context (historical connections and influences).

Art Nouveau summary

quick history of Art Nouveau

The following article points out how Art Nouveau was put in the back seat of art historical importance – why did this happen and should it be changed? Discuss the pros and cons of the historical evaluation of the value of Art Nouveau.

A different way of looking at Art Nouveau in art history

Read the following article about Klimt and Art Nouveau. Then read the following two articles which summarize the context and  implications of the style. Analayze the manner and meaning of depicting  women in Art Nouveau. Google Mucha and Klimt and choose a particular work to discuss in relation to the psychological, societal, and gender issues presented .

Klimt and Art Nouveau

Femme Fatale – context and history

Femme Fatale – Dangerous Beasts

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3 responses »

  1. Three important historical contributions to Art Nouveau:
    1) Artists looked towards nature (observing phenomena such as deep-sea organisms) and folklore to help them develop a new art form that broke free from the constraints of traditional artistic styles.
    2) The Arts and Crafts movement (which encouraged a return to handcraftsmanship and traditional techniques) and the Aesthetic movement (which encouraged the idea of “art for art’s sake” and led to the creation of many non-narrative paintings) influenced the emergence Art Nouveau.
    3) Spurred in part by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and John Ruskin, a movement arose that promoted the synthesis of the fine arts and the applied arts. Such a movement stimulated the growth of Art Nouveau.

    Three important visual components of Art Nouveau:
    1) Free loose lines and whip-lash curves
    2) Shapes and lines that evoke images of nature and the cycle of life
    3) Compositions that contain fluid and organic forms

    Art Nouveau is incongruous with the other movements depicted in Barr’s diagram and is therefore not included as a topic of discussion in many traditional art history classes. In addition, some Art Nouveau, such as that created by Mucha, is considered more “commercial” art than fine art and, as a result, is not deemed worthy of discussion. It is unfortunate that this is the case because Mucha’s artwork (and that of many other Nouveau artists) is an interesting and important contribution to the world of art and a good topic for discussion.
    Women in Art Nouveau were often portrayed as alluring and dangerous, a reflection of societal anxieties over the role of women and the potential “dangers” that would arise if women were no longer kept to the Women’s Sphere of domestic life. The portrayal of women in Art Nouveau might be interpreted as misogynistic but some argue that it is empowering, since females in Art Nouveau are portrayed as possessing dominance over males.

    In the following image, Mucha depicts women as seductive, yet the women could be interpreted as objects for men’s pleasure or as women enticing and manipulating men as they please.

    http://poulwebb.blogspot.com/2013/04/alphonse-mucha-part-5.html

    In the following painting, Gustav portrays a group of young women draped amid swirls and flowers, evoking a sense of innocence, growth, rebirth, and tranquility along with a sense of allurement.

    http://www.canvasreplicas.com/Klimt141.htm

    • I love that description of the curvilinear forms as “whiplash” – it evokes the dynamic nature of those curves! You bring up a good point about the various and opposite points of view involved in their depiction of women and the idea of the “femme fatale”. Which makes the most sense to you – of course, it depends upon the particular work. Let’s talk about it in class.

  2. – reaction to academic art of 19th century
    – embraced all aspects of design
    – took inspiration from history
    pros:
    – accessibility of information
    – pretty factual take on the informatino
    cons:
    – felt like a list of facts
    – when something was concluded it felt less well reasoned

    While the whimsical nature of women in art nouveau is incredibly beautiful, the objectification of women is still relevant. I wouldn’t say that it exploits women, however the somewhat sexual nature of the work does present some questions concerning the artists’ motives.

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