Art Nouveau

It was the the quirky architectural designs and fabulous jewellery, like the brooch pictured, which first attracted me to the Art Nouveau.

So when I found out about the exhibition ‘Sense and sensibility: art nouveau 1890-1914’  which is on until 14th December 2014 at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts I definitely wanted to see it. The Centre is part of the University of East Anglia Campus near Norwich.

The exhibition did not disappoint.

The items displayed were largely from the Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau (part of the Sainsbury Centre’s holdings), and the Arwas Archives (Victor Arwas was an art dealer and collector)

They included ceramics, sculpture, prints, furniture, and jewellery.

Among the highlights, for me, were:

     Posters by Mucha with their striking bright colours.

A Rennie Mackintosh designed desk, combining form and   function.

Several Aubrey Beardsley prints. These ink drawings were the artists proofs illustrating Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, published in 1894

     Degas ‘Little dancer’ bronze sculpture with satin hair ribbon and net tutu. Always an enchanting figure.

The term Art Nouveau was coined by, and the movement championed by, the art dealer Siegfried Bing. His Paris gallery was redesigned and opened as the Maison de L’Art Nouveau in 1895 and quickly became successful. In 1904 however, he closed the gallery. By this time the popularity of Art Nouveau was already in decline.

Despite being a short lived artistic movement, the amount and variety of the works produced is quite amazing and this exhibition gives a great glimpse of this.