Le Petit Café

The delightful Art Nouveau facade of Le Petit Café de Collioure in the south of France.

The Art Nouveau movement came to prominence at the beginning of the 20th Century, as Collioure became a centre of artistic activity. The royal castle, medieval streets, lighthouse converted into the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges, and its vibrant light inspired Fauve artists like Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh to visit and work there. Indeed ninety-eight reproductions of work by Matisse and Derain are displayed exactly where these two masters of Fauvism painted the originals in the early 20th century.

But back to Art Nouveau. The main object was to break down traditional distinctions between fine arts (especially painting and sculpture) and applied arts, and became widely used in architecture, interior design, graphic arts, furniture, glass art, textiles, ceramics, jewellery and metal work.

The first Art Nouveau houses and interior decoration appeared in Brussels in the 1890s. It was quickly taken up in Paris, where it was adapted by Hector Guimard, who applied the style for the entrances of the new Paris Métro, reaching its peak at the 1900 Paris International Exposition, especially in the posters of Alphonse Mucha, and the glassware of René Lalique and Émile Gallé.

From Belgium and France, it spread to the rest of Europe, often in rapidly growing cities that wanted to establish artistic identities like Turin and Palermo in Italy; Glasgow in Scotland; Munich and Darmstadt in Germany and Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain .

By 1914, and the beginning of the First World War, Art Nouveau was largely exhausted and was replaced in the 1920s by Art Deco and then Modernism as the dominant architectural and decorative art style; only to reappear in the early 1060s.


One response to “Le Petit Café”

  1. I love Art Deco and Nouveau. Always reminds me of my French Grandma. Well, she was born in Egypt but raised in France!


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