Art Nouveau, the Ornate Architectural Style that Defined the Early 20th Century

Exterior of Majolika House (Photo: Greymouser via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0 AT)


At the turn of the 20th century, a new architectural movement swept through Europe, creating some of the most spectacular monuments in history. From about 1890 to the start of World War I, Art Nouveau architecture swept across the continent, making use of new technologies for a highly ornamental, elaborate style.

When we think of paintings by Gustav Klimt or Alphonse Mucha, we’re touching on the Art Nouveau aesthetic. It’s a style influenced by nature, where stylized forms come together for bold, elaborate architecture. Just what are the hallmarks of Art Nouveau architecture? Aside from curving lines and shapes inspired by natural forms, the use of glass and wrought iron brings sculptural elements to Art Nouveau structures. In fact, architects of the time embraced the possibilities brought on by the Industrial Revolution.

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