A revolt from the Paris Academy of the mid-19th century, Art Nouveau delighted in the curviness of natural forms and the florid ornamentation of wild gardens. An idea of the world across all arts, Art Nouveau differentiated itself among purposes and nations and schools of thought, but with one unifying principle: a fusion of elegance and wildness. It overwhelmed the popular arts in Europe from 1890 to 1910.
42 1/2 x 56 7/8 in./107.3 x 144.5 cm
Of Atché’s half dozen known posters, this one for the cigarette paper firm is her most iconic. We get the lyricism of Art Nouveau in the handling of the green dress and the smoke, combined with a compelling Lautrec-esque management of the solid black cape as it slashes through the design. This is the larger format version of the poster.
15 1/4 x 23 1/2 in./38.7 x 79.7 cm
The devil takes the hindmost – quite fetchingly – in this snapshot of the Montmartre demimonde for La Cigale, a theater and cabaret near Place Pigalle. Tonight’s entertainment: “The Inferno,” because everybody is going to hell: including Jean Bloch, Prince, Rigadin and Mistinguett, according to Grün, p. 44. La Cigale, on the other hand, refuses to rest in peace: closed and reopened over the years, renovated and classified a historical monument, it remains a Paris venue even today.
13 5/8 x 28 3/4 in./34.6 x 73 cmon silk.
Hydrangeas were first identified in Japan, and the flower’s name means “water vessel.” Camps’ maiden, in Japanese adornment, clasps the flowers across her shoulders while smiling with an enigmatic directness. She appears the embodiment of the hydrangea’s symbolism: a touch of vanity, perhaps, but she’s grateful that you understand her, her sincere and heartfelt affection for you beyond the vanity. That’s why the hydrangea is the traditional 4th wedding anniversary flower: the softening of vanity into an enduring grace and beauty.
39 1/8 x 51 1/8 in./99.3 x 130 cm
Personifying the 5th Paris Auto Show is a regal-looking Art Nouveau goddess, proudly sitting at the helm of the latest open-air automobile. According to the side panel, bicycles, boats, and hot air balloons were also on view.
43 1/4 x 32 7/8 in./109.8 x 83.5 cm
A rapturous profusion of Art Nouveau majesty attends this splendid poster for Elixir de Spa, the original aperitif from Spa, Belgium, where the word and the idea of “spa” comes from, after a curative natural spring was found there in the 14th century. Capuchin monks distilled the liqueur from aromatic plants, barks and herbs – but the recipe was nearly lost during the French Revolution, when the Capuchin library burnt down. Luckily, a book collector discovered the lost manuscript, leading to the restoration of the liqueur, and its Grand Prix award in 1897. It continues to be distilled today, and sold in the very same elegantly-shaped bottles as seen in the poster.
32 3/8 x 50 1/2 in./82.2 x 128.2 cm
Grasset created the first poster for the first annual show of decorative arts. It was the beginning of a movement that culminated in 1925 with a widely acclaimed exhition that introduced Art Deco as a major trend in a wide field of applied arts. At this early stage, Grasset represents the new art as a lightly draped nude, manipulating flowering branches, hinting at Art Deco’s preoccupation with themes from nature as ornamental elements.
31 1/8 x 47 5/8 in./79 x 121 cm
Kerosene lamps were old technology by the time Pal was commissioned for Rayon d’Or; but that didn’t dissuade him. Instead, for “the last word in lighting,” he attracts us like moths to a flame – and what a flame! What a moth!