What kind of life do we want? This was the question those living around 1900, faced by the revolutionary developments and inventions confronting them, asked themselves. Electricity, the theory of evolution, psychoanalysis, X-rays and other achievements bring radical changes to private and social life, simultaneously triggering both euphoria and fear. The arts became a means of forging a better world, and Art Nouveau was the expression of a courageous upsurge of reforming artists all over Europe. They demanded a more responsible way of dealing with resources and work, strived towards self-determined working as a way of giving life a purpose. The personal sensitivities of the individual are taken seriously. Rigid gender roles began to break up. Criticism of man’s alienation from himself in modern industrial society gave an impetus to the longing for untrammelled originality. The child became a symbol of innocence, and the quest for the unspoilt lead away from the familiar, to nature.
I stepped into another world – the world of Art Nouveau. Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimt, Ferdinand Hodler, Henry van de Velde, Carlo Bugatti, Alfons Mucha, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec are only a few names of artists of the exhibition. When I think of Art Nouveau, wonderful flowers are growing up in my mind. It’s the typical idea of Art Nouveau. Fanciful ornamentation and looking out for something new like high-quality products whose beauty would enhance the quality of people’s everyday lives. Maybe for some artists it was the search of luck and happiness. It was an utopian idea of reforming society through art and it found expression in the most diverse forms. “Their Utopian potential was translated into whole living ensembles, which permeate the life of their owners with lightness and elegance. Due to their own high standards of quality, the expensive artistic craftwork of the Art Nouveau designers only reached well-to-do strata of buyers, however”, you can read on an exhibition label. And that’s the problem, high quality, wonderful objects – luxury. Who doesn’t want to own all of it and more? The beauty of its high-quality products is something only the affluent classes could afford.
It is a multi-faceted exhibition and you need some time to read the exhibition labels and to have a closer look at all those fantastic objects. I really enjoy led it and I am sure to visit it a second time.
#museum | Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
#exhibition | Art Nouveau. The Great Utopian Vision
#unitl | 28. February 2016