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Article

Michèle Lavallée

[Fr.: ‘new art’]

Decorative style of the late 19th century and the early 20th that flourished principally in Europe and the USA. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts, the aspects on which this survey concentrates. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms; in a broader sense it encompasses the geometrical and more abstract patterns and rhythms that were evolved as part of the general reaction to 19th-century historicism. There are wide variations in the style according to where it appeared and the materials that were employed.

Art Nouveau has been held to have had its beginnings in 1894 or 1895. A more appropriate date would be 1884, the year the progressive group Les XX was founded in Belgium, and the term was used in the periodical that supported it, Art Moderne: ‘we are believers in Art Nouveau’. The origin of the name is usually attributed to ...

Article

Alan Crawford

Informal movement in architecture and the decorative arts that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsman, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself.

The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the second half of the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th, drawing its support from progressive artists, architects and designers, philanthropists, amateurs, and middle-class women seeking work in the home. They set up small workshops apart from the world of industry, revived old techniques, and revered the humble household objects of pre-industrial times. The movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against industrialization. Although quixotic in its anti-industrialism, it was not unique; indeed it was only one among several late 19th-century reform movements, such as the Garden City movement, vegetarianism, and folksong revivals, that set the Romantic values of nature and folk culture against the artificiality of modern life....

Article

Alan Crawford

(b Isleworth, Middx, May 17, 1863; d Godden Green, Kent, May 23, 1942).

English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place.

In 1888, while he was training to be an architect in the office of G. F. Bodley and Thomas Garner (1839–1906), Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in the East End of London. The School lasted only until 1895, but the Guild, a craft workshop that combined the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement with a romantic, apolitical socialism, was to be the focus of Ashbee’s work for the next 20 years. There were five guildsmen at first, making furniture and base metalwork. In ...

Article

Frederick N. Bohrer

Style of the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th, inspired by Assyrian artefacts of the 9th to 7th centuries bc. These were first brought to public attention through the excavations by Paul-Emile Botta (1802–70) at Khorsabad and Austen Henry Layard at Nimrud in the 1840s. By 1847 both the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London had begun to display these objects, the size and popularity of which were such that the Louvre created a separate Musée des Antiquités Orientales, while the British Museum opened its separate Nineveh Gallery in 1853. The same popularity, fuelled by Layard’s best-selling Nineveh and its Remains (London, 1849) and Botta’s elaborate Monument de Ninive (Paris, 1849–50), led to further explorations elsewhere in Mesopotamia.

Assyrian revivalism first appeared in England rather than France, which was then in political turmoil. The earliest forms of emulation can be found in the decorative arts, such as the ‘Assyrian style’ jewellery that was produced in England from as early as ...

Article

Marcel Smets

[Karel] (François Gommaire)

(b Brussels, Oct 13, 1837; d Uccle, July 13, 1914).

Belgian urban planner and writer. The son of a jeweller, he spent a somewhat isolated youth: poor health enhanced a shyness, which set him apart from other children. Although he completed secondary schooling, in terms of his vocation he was largely self-taught. After nearly two years of artistic training in Paris and Italy, he gave up plans to follow in his father’s trade, choosing instead to take up the cause of educational reform. With some of his liberal friends he founded in 1864 the Ligue de l’Enseignement, a pressure group with close ties to Masonic circles. He particularly devoted himself to drawing primary instruction away from ecclesiastical influence and to setting up a new teaching method based on comprehension and experience rather than on learning by rote. In 1875 he became the first director of a successful model school created according to these new didactical objectives.

All the while Buls was deeply concerned with the development of the decorative arts. Disappointment with the appeal of the artistic production of his time made him turn to history for roots and principles that might provide a more invigorating approach. Influenced by the mid-19th-century German art historians, Karl Schnaase and Wilhelm Lübke, and by the aesthetic theories of Gottfried Semper, he soon adopted their rationalist thesis whereby each of the decorative arts was to be determined by its use, the properties of its materials and the method of construction. Philosophical considerations by Kant and Schopenhauer convinced him that eternal ideas were the foundation of aesthetical contemplation, ideas that Buls related to the inherent nature and tradition of the population and the place from which the artistic expression emanated. He thus arrived at the concept of a national art that he was to defend for the rest of his life....

Article

Jean-François Pinchon

(b Neuville Saint-Vaast, Pas de Calais, April 25, 1842; d Paris, March 7, 1921).

French engineer. Born into a peasant family, he began his career as a stone-dresser, rising rapidly to site supervisor. He formed his own company in 1867 and became interested in reinforced concrete, which he studied for 12 years, during which time he carried out systematic experiments on combining iron and concrete. Unlike most inventors of systems of reinforced concrete, Hennebique aimed at a rigorous understanding of the behaviour of iron and concrete in a load-bearing beam. He observed that, under compression, concrete is preferable to iron, that it does not impede expansion and that its use offers a means to avoid shearing. Accurate deductions based on considerable practical knowledge of and experiments with the material enabled him to devise a system to calculate the correct position for the reinforcement within the concrete, first patented in 1892 when the scientific equipment for the study of concrete was extremely rudimentary.

Hennebique made his first slabs reinforced with iron rods in ...

Article

Judith O’Callaghan

(b London, June 14, 1869; d Perth, Aug 29, 1947).

Australian silversmith, jeweller, woodworker and painter of English birth. His father was the watercolourist Sir James Dromgole Linton (1840–1916). Having trained as a painter and architect in London, he travelled to Western Australia in 1896 and began practising metalwork after settling in Perth; he was appointed head of the art department of Perth Technical School in 1902. Following a trip to London in 1907, when he attended classes at the Sir John Cass Technical Institute under Harold Stabler, he concentrated on producing metalwork. Working in partnership with Arthur Cross, William Andrews and his own son Jamie Linton (1904–80), he produced ecclesiastical and domestic wares, presentation pieces and jewellery. His designs were influenced by British Arts and Crafts metalwork and were bold and simple, with decoration generally confined to hammered surfaces, twisted wire, hardstones and enamels. A highly influential figure in Perth’s artistic community and an energetic teacher, Linton played an important role in the promotion of crafts in Western Australia....

Article

Anne van Loo

(b Brussels, Dec 9, 1873; d Brussels, Feb 9, 1980).

Belgian architect, teacher and designer. He was the son of a jeweller from Brussels and trained in precious metalwork at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels before taking drawing courses at the Gewerbliche Fortbildungsschule (1890–91) and the Kunstgewerblicheschule, Munich. He began work as a goldsmith, later working with master ironworkers (1893–6) and builder–foundrymen (1897–8). In 1899 he became a draughtsman for the architect Adrien Delpy (d 1949) in Brussels, then until 1903 he worked in Georges Hobé’s decorative arts and cabinet work studio. In 1904 he went into partnership with the architect Adhémar Lenner; together they won a restricted competition (1908) for the Palace Hotel in Brussels, for which he also designed the furniture.

In 1910, at the age of 37, Pompe created his first individual work of architecture: Dr Van Neck’s orthopaedic clinic in Brussels, a rationalist building in which Pompe went beyond the previous limits of Art Nouveau. The building’s internal organization is expressed in its façade, notably by the use of glass blocks that illuminate the great gymnasium, and three projecting vertical ventilation shafts rest on the metal lintels of the ground-floor bays to emphasize their non-structural character. Of all 20th-century buildings in Belgium, this is probably the one that best expressed an original direction for architecture, in which craft and industry would find their respective places. In its form as much as in its innovative programme, this building was such a sensation that Pompe became a figurehead for the young modernist generation. However, his desire to combine technical rationality and constructional logic with a romantic, emotional expression always separated him from this group....