Louis Sullivan and the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building

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  • Topic: Art Nouveau, Louis Sullivan, Chicago
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Louis Sullivan and the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building

“The Art Nouveau Jewel of Chicago”

Written by Joss Ryan

P10528830

History and Theory ‘ARCH 2031’ 2012

Louis Sullivan and the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building

Page 1

Art Nouveau is a very renowned style of art, applied art, and architecture. It is an influential design movement and an international philosophy. The name “Art Nouveau” itself means “new art” in the French language, and is also known as “Jugendstil” in German, which shows an encapsulation of vitality and youth, literally translated as “youth style”. The name “Jugendstil” derives from the Munich magazine ‘Jugend’, first published in the year 1896, which soon became a big promoter of the movement. Other countries, such as Fig. 1 Russia knew the movement as “Modern”, which could well have come from

the famous Parisian gallery "La Maison Moderne", however this is not fully known. “Secession” was its name in Austria-Hungary and its state successors, aptly named after the “Viennese Secession”; a group of Austrian artists, sculptors and architects, who had broken away from the ‘Association of Austrian Artists’. It was known in Italy as “Stile Liberty”; the name taken from the London department store ‘Liberty & Co.’, in which the style was largely popularised. Art Nouveau is beautifully inspired by structure and form through the natural world; not only in flora such as plants and flowers, but also by curvature in line work (examples fig. 1, 2 top, left). Architects attempted to incorporate these styles and principles into their work, trying to harmonise with the natural environment. Art Nouveau is also considered a philosophy in the design of furniture, which means that furniture itself, should be designed based upon the whole building and made part of ordinary life - form and Fig. 2 th 1

function working together in harmony.

“The last third of the 19 century saw the development of a fundamentally new approach to architecture and interior design. All over Europe there was a need for a liberating change of direction, a desire to break away from set formulas based on a pastiche of historical styles and a search for original ideas, all of which resulted at the beginning of the 1890’s in the birth of Art Nouveau.” 2

The origins of this large and influential movement can be traced back to the 19 th

century, when Czechoslovakian born printer Alphonse Mucha

(seen in fig. 3 left) developed lithographic posters depicting large colourful, floral motifs, that were put out on the streets of Paris in an advertising campaign, addressing the merits and beauty of natural living. This movement Fig. 3

Joss Ryan

History and Theory ‘ARCH 2031’ 2012

Louis Sullivan and the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building

Page 2

quickly spread to Glasgow via Munich and eventually to Moscow, as more lithographic posters (example poster fig. 4 left) were displayed across big name high street department stores like Fortnum & Masons, Fenwicks and Carneges. 3

During the same era, America and Europe were witnessing very large and drastic changes within society, mainly around the dramatic spread of industrialisation. This resulted in substantial wealth being created and then concentrated on commercial and industrial cities. Factories began to heavily incorporate mass production methods into their manufacture, which created a new class of workers and made goods of vast ranges more widely available than had previously been seen. It was this industrial boom, and the major changes in production and manufacture, that influenced and spurred Mucha to create his stylistic posters how he did. From then on, the initial aim was to reintroduce craftsmanship, a variety of creative skills, and art through natural form back into manufacture, as the art of manual craft was quickly dying out; Fig. 4 taken over by machines. th 4

Art Nouveau reached its zenith within the 20 century,...
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