As we approached the Museu de Arte Nova in Aveiro, Portugal, I couldn’t get past the front door. The building is awe inspiring in all of its faded and timeless beauty. It anchored us in this floating city known as the Venice of Portugal. From Brussels to Turin, Prague to Paris, we have noticed the presence of Art Nouveau’s greatest minds. But not since Barcelona have we felt the movement unify a place the way it does in Aveiro and its surrounds.
At the beginning of the 20th Century Art Nouveau took hold as a form of escape from the more traditional historical styles. Artists drew inspiration from both organic and geometric forms and the places where those two unite.
Walking the streets of Aveiro, a city so united by such a short stylistic period, felt like an open air museum. Each building had a story teeming with ghosts and legends that would pale in my retelling. Here is the story in pictures, with some accompanying quotes by the masterminds of this style. The era was quickly replaced by Art Deco in the 1920’s but the bold inspiration to break from convention has a magnetism that still resonates today.
Art is a line around your thoughts. – Gustav Klimt
Nothing is art if it does not come from nature – Antoni Gaudi
I love architecture, because in its essence, in its structure, in its function, and in all of its manifestations, it contains within itself every one of the other arts, without exception. – Hector Guimard
In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature. – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become. – Alphonse Mucha