|A typical floral Art Nouveau doorway|
OK. I’m going to stop being pretentious. My French is all right, and certainly I’m comfortable throwing around a few French phrases when I’m feeling particularly “continental” (and how can you feel otherwise when you’re thinking about Art Nouveau?).
But I’m also beginning to realize that in all my striving to refer to my favorite style as l’art nouveau, it was coming out a little, well, “pretentious” seems to be the only word that comes to mind. So “Art Nouveau” it will be from now on!
|An Interior Entrance from a Building Foyer
(with exquisite tracery connecting the
wooden trim and the glass)
Loved all the exposure to Art Nouveau in Brussels. There are so many variations on the theme, and it’s hard to characterize the entire spectrum of Art Nouveau that’s available in Brussels, but the basics are there, and they’re really all over the place. Brussels, like Paris and Prague (I hear) and Riga (ditto), is an essential stop on any Art Nouveau itinerary and I’m happy I had some time to spend so I could look about.
The photos are my own (not very professional – sorry about that) and I guess it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t go for the more famous sites and objects. I did, though, have fun with trying to figure out just what it was – back at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th – that inspired people to latch on to Art Nouveau. And through the intervening years, to keep going on and on with it, so that even in some of the more modern buildings, one sees references to Art Nouveau, often attached to (and obviously inspired by) some true item or building or room or shopfront from the actual Art Nouveau period.
|An Art Nouveau Building Entrance
(seen from inside the foyer)
So these photographs are something of a mélange (there I go again!), just trying to capture some of the different representations one runs into in a walk about Brussels. You see a lot of these painted borders over doorways, and sometimes they are sculpted into the surface of the wall (plaster, stone, or what-not).
|Art Nouveau Letterboxes in the Same
I like the way some of the building entrances pull it all together, with the door frames and window frames, the glass decoration, and the door surrounds all of a piece (the intricate tracery of the interior entrance of one of the buildings makes just entering the foyer exceptionally pleasing). And I even found one building where my friend pointed out to me the Art Nouveau characteristics of the letterboxes. Such fun!
|Art Nouveau Signboard
in an Office Building
Another pleasure is looking at the wide range of Art Nouveau fonts and typefaces, the adverts of the period, and even the monumental signs and sculptures carried it out in the lettering (including one specially notable list of companies and tenants in an office building I walked into). It all just seems to come together.
I’ve tried over the years to come up with some ideas – for myself (I’m not scholarly in these things) – to characterize Art Nouveau. I guess the basics for me are the sinuous lines and the delicacy of the “movement” of the lines. The botanical references please me a lot, too, and then there’s the famous “whiplash line” that for some Art Nouveau specialists is almost the most famous characteristic of the style.
Whatever it is, it is a joy to behold, whether in architecture, drawings, painting, light fixture, door handles, china and glassware, even the magnificent silver candlesticks (now often reproduced in polished pewter), sculptures, and such. Great fun.