Graphic Designers Inspired By Art Nouveau

Published: 02nd March 2011
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As the 19th century was drawing to a close, graphic illustrators incorporated pattern, shape and design into their art. The man who used those same elements and actually changed the way that graphic designers looked at a page, died at the age of only 26 years. During his short career, he created and popularized his own unique interpretation of the art nouveau style, which subsequent artists have endeavored to copy at different times throughout the 20th century.

Among the most significant and misunderstood literary characters of the day was Oscar Wilde, who promoted the merits of a wide range of artistic styles, as he felt that the art should be considered its own end and should not simply be considered for ethical or moral merits. Oscar Wilde decided to choose this special young artist to illustrate a certain story which was both perverse and exotic. The blossoming artist utilized dark eroticism, grand lines, arrangements and interesting imagery to depict the storyline.

His work was made distinctive by a spectacular give and take between black and white. So too, are the expansive and elaborate borders which make use of intricate patterns of black line on a white background. His page is typically asymmetrical; movements are developed with big, not broken sinuous curves. Oscar places figures in his renderings constructed of simple outlines. However, the figure's hairdos are intricate and elaborate. The items the figures hold are complex as well. It is the reciprocity between the straightforward and the complex that bolsters Wilde's work and empowers it.

Many artists in the 1800s were influenced by items which were being imported from Asia, in addition to a focus on Renaissance decor and medieval artworks. Artists from both the United States and Europe imitated Beardsley's illustrative style which was popular outside his native England through its repeated appearances in a number of famous publications. Currently, many of his pieces are often reproduced as posters and prints.

By the end of the 1800s, commercial ad imagery and poster art began to divide into separate forms of art. Posters had already reached the color printing stage while books of that day were still printed in black and white. One colorful and arresting image was the focus of the leader of poster design. If this image was advertising an event or a product, the accompanying text was usually very simple and quick. Artists understood that attracting the attention of someone required simplicity, which was accomplished by flat, simple shapes and bold colors. Eventually, lines themselves took on a somewhat broken and hesitant appearance that was something akin to Impressionist paintings of the day. Because of this, his work is though to be the forerunner of the exemplary art nouveau design poster.

A different illustrator who employed more powerful outlines and contours with greater fluidity is believed to have created the proper art nouveau poster. One artist created work which is noted for graceful, young girls with long hair and draped clothing, spreading out into interesting, beautiful forms. Yet a different successful and well known art nouveau designer's posters always proved to be elegant, narrow strips with typically one entire length female figure. To make the intricate and detailed patterns of the time, the artists would draw from many sources including fold art, Arab and Moorish decoration, Hebrew lettering, Celtic motifs, Japanese wood cuts and Byzantine mosaics.

A wide array of publications and reproductions featuring the graphic design work of late 19th and early 20th century artists are available to be appreciated. In addition, there are antique merchants focusing on the sale of 19th and 20th century posters. You can often find them selling their wares at antique shows. If a piece is in excellent condition, you can expect to pay from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

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