These imaginative spaces were only constructed during a short window of time.
Art Nouveau was a movement brought on by a rejection of the symmetry and straight lines of the Victorian era, something which encroached on artistic freedoms as mass production cranked out home decor and building materials that all increasingly looked the same. These goods often cut traditional artisans out of the picture as a lower level of skill was needed to operate a machine than to make something by hand.
We use the French term of Art Nouveau today, but the movement to return to something more natural and slow in terms of design swept Europe for a period of around 30 years, with names like Modernisme in Spain, Stile Liberty in Italy, and Jugendstil in Germany. Free-flowing patterns inspired by plants and crafted by hand the old way became the style of the day. Everything from jewelry to lamps to art was affected by the movement, but the architecture of the era is particularly breathtaking. Have a look a 5 Art Nouveau buildings that are still standing in all their glory today.
Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain
This is one of the most well known Art Nouveau buildings in the world. It was actually built as a more plain domicile in 1877, but when Josep Batlló bought the property he commissioned famed architect, Antoni Gaudí to remake the look of the building. Along with Maria Jujol Gaudí transformed the whole building, both inside and out.
The facade has 3 sections, each which look as if the sinews of a tree have grown across the stone to form ledges and balconies. Even the roof echos aspects of nature, with the tiles representing a dragon and the spire representing the spear used by St. George to kill the giant reptile. The prolific work of Gaudí has made Barcelona a hotspot of Art Nouveau architecture and style.
Elizabeth Street, 10B, by Riga, Latvia
Barcelona may have the Art Nouveau tourism claim to fame, but the city of Riga, Latvia, actually has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings standing today of any location. Around 1/3 of the buildings in Riga are Art Nouveau. This is thanks in part to the engineer and architect, Mikhail Eisenstein, who set the trend with his stunning building at 10B Elizabeth Street.
The original design for this building was taken from an illustration published in St. Petersburg and was made into reality by Einstein. The style in Riga is for the telltale “whiplash” designs of Art Nouveau to be mixed with human forms and animals, as can be seen on many of the facades of the city.
Majolica House, Vienna, Austria
Built in the Vienna Secession style which is very closely related to Art Nouveau, the Majolica House in Vienna has a wildly colorful facade which looks almost like something more from modern day Haight-Ashbury in San Fransisco than a building that was finished in 1899.
The 6-story building was designed by Otto Wagner and features a rather plain treatment of the stone and windows. All the drama is in the bright patterns of flowers, vines, scrolls, and lion heads that adorn the front of the building. The railings for the balconies are decorated with vines and whiplash designs and while not entirely plain, they still allow the facade to be the real star of the show.
The vivid designs were made using majolica tiles, hence the name of the building.
Theater Tuchinski, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Art Nouveau had a long run, but was cut short by the start of World War I when it was all hands on deck for most of Europe to supply war goods and support the troops. Decorative arts took a serious blow during this time, except in countries that were neutral. The Netherlands was one such locale and the magnificent Theater Tuchinski (completed in 1921) is a mix of Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. Rib-like decorations on the front of the building signal a nod to the animal, while the symmetry and straight lines might symbolize the power of the 20th century weighing down on nature.
The ornate movie palace was considered one of the finest of Europe, but sadly the man who commissioned this Pathé theater, Icek Tuchinski, and most of his family were murdered in the concentration camps during World War II. During the time when Nazi Germany occupied Amsterdam the Jewish name was removed from the facade and it was temporarily renamed the Tivoli Theater. The building was designed by Hijman Louis de Jong who also perished in a Nazi concentration camp.
Casa Galimberti, Milan, Italy
Designed by Giovanni Battista Bossi and completed in 1906, the Casa Galimberti in Milan features unmistakeable Art Nouveau (Or Stile Liberty) decoration. Mucha-like figures in colored tiles adorn the front, and the familiar vines and flowers adorn the balconies, as well as other sections of tile decoration.
Inside the decoration continues with delicate flowers, vines, and angelic women adorning the plaster and whiplash vine gates at the entrances. This building is truly a feast for the eyes!