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Jugendstil

Jugendstil Collage

Started: 1896

Ended: 1914

"We are on the threshold of not only the new style, but also the development of a completely new art. The art of applying forms of nothing insignificant, not representing anything, and not resembling anything."

August Endell

Summary of Jugendstil

Partaking in the Art Nouveau trends elsewhere in Europe, Jugendstil in Germany revolutionized and popularized modern design and crafts at the turn of the 20th century. The term Jugendstil, meaning "Young Style," was derived from the magazine Die Jugend, and the style tended toward floral motifs, arabesques, and organically inspired lines and eventually moved toward abstraction and functionalism. Importantly, it emphasized workshops, where groups of designers worked with industrialists for mass production to disseminate products.

Jugendstil would become an important touchstone for Expressionists in Germany and Austria who were creating new visions of the modern subject and urban centers as well as later Bauhaus experiments in combining fine and applied arts.

Key Ideas

The dominant forms of Jugendstil furniture, architecture, and illustrations were organic shapes and lines that were at once simple and dynamic. It shared with the international Art Nouveau movement naturalistic floral motifs, but as the style evolved, the organic shapes contrasted with more abstract and geometric forms to create a more complex dynamism.
Many of the Jugendstil artists were well versed in multiple art forms, and they strove to create a gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. The idea of the gesamtkunstwerk evolved over the 19th century, and Jugendstil took its core aim - a desire to synthesize all of the arts - to create carefully designed environments that would be harmonious with human use.
While Jugendstil emphasized the individual imagination, it also strove to bring art and design to a wide audience. Setting up workshops across Germany, Jugendstil artists worked with industrial designers to create objects that could easily be mass produced.
Jugendstil Image

Beginnings:

Swiss-born artist Hermann Obrist launched Jugendstil in the mid-1890s in Munich, and the city soon became the early center of the movement that included August Endell, Bruno Paul, Bernhard Pankok, and Otto Eckmann. Growing up in Switzerland, Obrist first studied botany and history, but after several trips in 1886 through the countryside, he experienced a number of visions of "a strange, unknown city with towers and temple-like buildings...translucent and...perpetually in motion, disappearing and then reappearing." In his autobiography A Happy Life: A Biography of the Artist, Naturalist and Independent Spirit" (c. 1900), he wrote of his experiences in the third person, saying, "Nothing he saw was in any way reminiscent of the many styles he would later encounter on his travels. Making a clearer than ever mental note of what he had just seen, he hurriedly drew sketches which he still feasts on to this day; and a voice inside him called out to him for the first time and said: Leave your studies; go forth and picture this." As a result of his vision, he turned to sculpture and the applied arts in 1887. His early ceramics and furniture won awards at the 1889 Paris Exposition, and in the early 1890s following the sale of a model for a fountain, he moved to Florence, where he opened an embroidery and tapestry workshop with Berthe Ruchet, which he relocated to Munich in 1895.

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