Art Nouveau designs at the Sainsbury Centre

The weekend saw the opening of The First Moderns: Art Nouveau, Nature to Abstraction exhibition at The Sainsbury centre in Norwich.

Emile Gallé Vase ‘blow-out’ cameo glass, c.1920

Source: Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau UEA 21017

Emile Gallé Vase ‘blow-out’ cameo glass, c.1920

The show is the debut exhibition in the new Modernisms gallery, and will explore the influence of nature on early Modern design, and how this evolved into graphically more abstract, geometric forms.

Reissner Stellmacher und Kessel Figure of Loie Fuller Earthenware, c.1900

The origins of Art Nouveau can be found following the publication of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species in 1859. It was during this Victorian period that huge changes were effected – the Industrial Revolution, the rise of city-dwelling and a new emphasis on global commerce, as well as changing attitudes towards sex and sexuality – all if which was reflected in the Art Nouveau works produced at the time.

René Lalique Hair ornament with a cypripedium orchid design, c.1902

The show is curated by Art Nouveau specialist Professor Paul Greenhalgh, and it features works from Art Nouveau designers including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Emile Gallé Louis Majorelle, René Lalique, Josef Hoffmann and Alphonse Mucha. The section of the show devoted to what it dubs the Frist Moderns presents work from designers who moved from natural to more geometric forms, such as Gerrit Rietveld, Vladimir Tatlin and Marcel Breuer.

If all this Art Nouveau isn’t quite enough to satiate your arty palette, the Sainsbury Centre is also opening The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau to the public from this week, which was given to the University of East Anglia in 1978 by Sir Colin and Lady Anderson.

The collection includes jewellery, furniture, glassware and metalwork from designers including Emile Gallé, René Lalique, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Minton and Royal Doulton.

The First Moderns: Art Nouveau, Nature to Abstraction runs until 4 December; The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau is open from 9 February – 23 May at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4

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