List of Art Nouveau Architects and Designers
In this article, the four featured protagonists of the artistic movement loosely labelled as 'Art Nouveau' are Victor Horta, Hector Guimard, Antoni Gaudi and Louis Sullivan.
Horta was born in Ghent, Belgium in 1861. Although Horta made a living designing houses for the bourgeoisie, his style would always be associated with the Socialist movement prevalent in Belgium at the turn of the Century. Horta's finest work was seen in his usage of iron and how it could be used to mould pillars and beams into 'living' curves. Horta would study plants and flowers and look to replicate them ornamentally with his usage of iron and glass.
Iron, literally, took the load of heavy materials and allowed for more elegant structural work. Horta took advantage of this in using motifs like double storey rooms which allowed for extensive light. However, with Horta, the iron work is elevated into an artistic embellishment as it is integrated within his 'whiplash' line which covers the interiors of his buildings.
Guimard was born in Paris in 1867. His work is instantly recognisable as the architect and designer behind the entrances to the Paris Metro stations. Clearly influenced by Horta-who he met in Brussels in 1895-Guimard's design work encompassed a wide range of disciplines. He could be seen as an extreme executor of Horta's ideas. He designed wallpapers, floors, entrance halls and even door handles. Guimard was, in fact, a stylist. However, his execution was of such sumptuous achievement that he qualifies as a great architect in his own right.
Gaudi was born in Reus in 1852. He is one of the most famous architects in history and, no other architect dominates and emblemizes his city as does Gaudi with Barcelona. In truth, he was a Catalan nationalist whose passion for nature saw him try to recreate natural structural forms. This, it should be noted, is distinct from Horta. Whereas Horta made structural design into the art form of nature, Gaudi took nature and used it to make his structural forms. For example, he favoured parabolic arches because if you put weights on a piece of string, this is the shape you would get. Gaudi's work is too parochial and too idiosyncratic to create an artistic movement. However, his genius transcends such considerations and, should be seen as a true homage to Catalunya.
Sullivan was born in Chicago in 1856. He formed a partnership with Dankmar Adler which would see them build some of Chicago's most astonishing buildings. This included the Auditorium Building, the Guaranty Building and the former Schlesinger and Mayer department store. He favoured ornament based on plant forms and embellished them within the facade of his buildings. This was an age of high rise buildings and Sullivan helped to give them an organic aspect. Like Gaudi, and distinct from Horta, Sullivan seemed to favour a scientific approach. However, this approach was based on the science of nature and, most of his works seem to contain the principle that form derives from nature