Art Nouveau experienced its heyday in the period from around 1895-1914. The new art movement became known predominantly in Germany under this name. It is named after the Munich art magazine "Die Jugend". Outside Germany, however, the same art style is most widely known under the name "Art Nouveau". At the time, Jugendstil or Art Nouveau had the reputation of being a young, modern and original movement in terms of style.
Art Nouveau has its roots in "Arts and Craft", among other things. Arts and Craft was an English movement and a response to the industrialisation that was taking hold. At the beginning of this twentieth century, people felt an enormous growth in mass production, at the expense of craft tradition. The aim of Arts and Crafts is to preserve the craft tradition.
The artists of Art Nouveau strive for an integration of art in everyday life. Art and aesthetics should be present and tangible in people's everyday lives. Art and craft should form a unity. Craft should be functional and additionally possess the aesthetics of a work of art.
The artists of Art Nouveau pursue the claim that handicrafts should give pleasure - for the craftsman as well as for the consumer.
Art Nouveau finds its expression in furniture design and architecture, in painting and sculpture, in the production of sculptures, as well as jewellery and glassware.
External characteristics of Art Nouveau are:
Nature is the model and stylistic device for Art Nouveau artists. From this "imitation" of nature, the artists of Art Nouveau derive forms, flowing lines and ornaments. Animals are used as symbols, e.g. lion, owl, and eagle. Following historical figures, such symbolically used animals stand for a certain goal or virtue.
Art Nouveau finds its strongest expression in painting. In addition to paintings, graphics and posters, many artists devoted themselves to textile and book painting.
The artists of Art Nouveau want to be inspired by old and past art epochs, but without imitating them. Their works of art should first and foremost be unique and appropriate to their time. In this way, Art Nouveau differs from "Historicism" - a style that exerted an influence on art history at the same time as Art Nouveau.
There are various groups within Art Nouveau. The most important of these is the "Vienna Secession" under the leadership of Gustav Klimt. The Berlin and Munich Secessions are also active Art Nouveau associations.