Using modern materials of the time: iron, steel, and glass, he "employed the floral ornamentation of Art Nouveau as both a surface decoration and a constructive element" that consists of his famous whimsical lines, curvaceous forms, and relatively overly embellished designs.1 Cantilevered forms are created to generate lively, well-lit, large interiors that house the furniture, also designed by him, to keep a cohesive appearance. These are spaces that are not set on the ground, but convincingly look as though they could have naturally grown out of the ground. These are organic forms in nature, without a desired destination or direction, just naturally growing and letting nature guide their course. The period in Victor Horta's life dedicated to Art Nouveau is but deliberate or intentional, however in its chaos it has a sense of grace and fluid beauty.
From the time he was born in Ghent on January 6, 1861, to the time he died at the ripe age of 86, on September 9, 1947, Victor Horta was an artist in every sense of the word. Horta was born to a working class family with Victor-Pierre Horta, a shoemaker, as his father and Henriette Coppieters as his mother. In Ghent he was determined to follow his early musical talent, but this premature dream was quickly crushed when he was "dismissed from the Ghent conservatory."2 Following this unforeseen disappointment, he quickly recovered and pursued his passion of the arts. Horta enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied textiles, drawing, and architecture for three years before going to Paris.
It was Paris that awakened his creative talent and where Horta acquired great enthusiasm and a flair for architecture. Though he only intended to stay in Paris for a few weeks, he ended up staying for two years. He started working in Montmarte, for architect and decorator, Jules Debuysson. Many artists, innovative building designs, and literary figures influenced Horta. Among those who influenced him were the artists Constatin Meuner and Loius Tiffany whose work he was able to admire at the Exposition Universelle, and who later contributed to his designs, whether it was solely by inspiration or collaboration. He wrote of his experience: "My stay in Paris, my walks, visits to monuments and museums, all opened wide the doors' to my artistic heart. No school could have taught me better the enthusiasm for architecture which stayed with me forever." 3 Unfortunately, as a result of his father's death, Horta was forced to return to Belgium in 1880.
Shortly after the death of his father, Horta married Pauline Heyse and moved to Brussels, which was a "thriving industrial and colonial state" at the time. 4 he found much inspiration in the facelift that this old city had undergone in order to become a modern Brussels. Still young in his career Horta had yet to venture out into his own personal style, so in 1880 he enrolled at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, where teachings were in large part Neoclassical to keep with the conservative image of the Brussels government. Horta's ease of use of the simple historic forms that made up the Neoclassical style earned him the Prix Godecharle Award in 1884 for a parliament building. It isn't until 1892 that Horta's style begins to take a more personalized turn towards his own tailored style, and the Edicule Lambeaux is the project that leads the way into his Art Nouveau.
The Edicule Lambeaux serves as an introduction to Horta's free form Art Nouveau style. In this building Horta concentrates on the characteristics that contribute to Art Nouveau such as the details of the materials and the search for a personalized language but "the Edicule Lambeaux clearly belongs to the body of his Neoclassical projects both in its conception and articulation." 5 This project bridged a path from Neoclassical to the more complex and detailed Art Nouveau. However, one Alphonse Balat who pushed him to use his original and inventive designs also influenced him....
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