Monday, January 28, 2008

Siegfried Bing and Art Nouveau in Paris

Art Nouveau, which I posted about all last week, began in Paris thanks to art dealer, Siegfried Bing. He was born in 1838 in Germany but moved to France in 1854 with his family. When his brother died, Siegfried inherited the family business which he developed into a hugely successful import-export business.

By importing Japanese art into France and exporting French artworks to Japan, Bing spread different artistic styles. This allowed artists to be influenced by works that they wouldn’t otherwise have come into contact with. This is how Art Nouveau began.

In 1895 he opened a gallery, the Maison de l’Art Nouveau, where he showed works by Art Nouveau artists, though they weren’t yet called that. The building was a sight to behold. The interior included furniture designed by Henry van de Velde and stained-glass windows by Tiffany.

An important development that allowed architects to venture into Art Nouveau was the creation of new building materials, such as steel, iron, and concrete. By using these materials, architects could build delicate, intricate facades rather than just building walls to protect the insides of their buildings. This helped the development of architectural Art Nouveau.

Art Nouveau was an artistic style that could be applied to all aspects of life. You could live in an Art Nouveau house with Art Nouveau furniture, decorated with Art Nouveau paintings and sculpture. When in Paris, if you keep your eyes open, you will see buildings in the Art Nouveau style. If you need some direction, visit Peter Olsen’s post on ceramic buildings in Paris. Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Paris, check out the amazing photos he has posted.

Also on Peter’s blog is an excellent post on Hector Guimard and his famous Paris Metro entrances. In my first post on Art Nouveau, I included a poor photo of one of these entrances that I took when I went to Paris. Peter has many beautiful images on his site that you should rush to look at, lest you believe that my photo does justice to Guimard’s work.

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Peter said...

Thanks for your kind references and links to my blog! By the way, I guess you may have seen, on my post from last Friday, a photo of the building which obviously housed Bing's gallery. ... and where also the last impressionist expo took place in 1886. Today this building is occupied by a bank and only the facade is fairly intact.

Jessica said...

I knew I had seen that building on your blog but I couldn't remember when. Thanks for pointing it out!