In the late nineteenth century, artists and designers demanded a radical break with the mass-produced, “more is more” aesthetic of the Victorian era. Revolutionizing Design unites textiles and furnishings by these European and American design reformers who laid the foundation for modern design.
The varied design movements at the turn of the century—including the Aesthetic movement, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Art Nouveau—shared a common interest in elevating interior decorating to the status of fine art. Designers argued that beautiful living spaces and affordable, attractive furnishings could improve society. Their novel ideals, including simplicity and socially conscious design, continue to resonate with designers today.
Two rotations of textiles will be exhibited in this show, the first group from May 31 till September 24, 2017, and the second from October 4, 2017, through February 4, 2018.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Art Nouveau explores the fruitful period between the 1880s and the First World War, when European and North American culture deferred to nature. With a symphony of flowing lines and organic shapes, Art Nouveau (“New Art”) inflected architecture, design, painting, graphic work, applied arts, and illustration.
Art Nouveau followed the example of the earlier English Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements to reject established hierarchies of artistic practice, to emphasize a return to handcraftsmanship, and to synthesize artistic media and practices into a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. In this, as in its turn to nature, Art Nouveau is often seen as an aesthetic response to the Industrial Revolution, a recoil from the mass-produced and mechanic, and an elevation of the human hand and wonders of the great outdoors.