Art Deco vs Art Nouveau

I continue the Arc Deco and Art Nouveau topic and how to tell one from the other.

Please read those articles, in which I have reflected my thoughts.

My new earrings

Art Deco jewelry

I have been thinking of giving more detailed description…

Let’s start with the terms and the period.

Art Deco  era 1925 -1940. The name comes from the name of the exhibition held in 1925 in Paris – Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes,  where the new works of European designers were presented.

Art Nouveau – one is very diverse style that existed from about 1885 till 1914. It means “new art” – and it was such at the time of origin. In Russian literature before the Revolution it was called “the newest style.” In Soviet times, the term was called “modern”. Now due to the fact that the English culture actively uses the term «modern» in the literal sense – it is more preferable to use a conventional English-language terminology – «Art Nouveau».

Sources of inspiration

For Art Nouveau it is Gothic, partly ancient Egypt and folk art – and the effect of the latter is so high, that  in some countries Art Nouveau was an expression of national revival and self-affirmation.
For Art Deco inspiration is an art of ancient Egypt and, at a very high degree, the art of Ancient Mesopotamia and art of the Far East, so far from each other cubism and Edwardian neo-classical art, ethnic and primitive arts – from African motifs to Greek Archaic.

In the ornament art nouveau used the motifs of the most common plants and flowers – those that grew under the window of the artist. Deco-inspiration is  tropical plants from distant overseas. Nouveau loves birds, insects and fishes. Deco’s felt passion for panthers, lions and their prey – deer (the influence of Mesopotamia).

Art Nouveau uses almost endless line.

Deco is building simple shapes – squares, circles, triangles – even the leaves and flowers are geometric.

Art Nouveau is not technological at all, in contrast to Deco.

The funny thing, perhaps, in my opinion, is that Art Deco had no idea in principle. More precisely the manifestation was simple – life is a party!


Art Nouveau colors are muted, “natural”, pastel.
Deco’s colors are bright, flashy, contrasting.


And the materials, materials …

Art Nouveau: milky marble, dull silver, mahogany, semi-precious stones.

Deco: polished silver, shining brass, ivory, ebony and stainless steel.


Art Nouveau women are spiritually anemic or languorously plump… The endlessly-flowing waves of hair – is the main trademark of this style. And by the way, it seems that all of those women- are tall. The men look like eternal youths.
Women of Art Deco are small, strong, sporty and if they are full, then it is a special, healthy fullness.

Nouveau is exquisitely erotic with every curve of the ornament.
Deco’ sexuality is brutal.

Well, I’m jiggered. How am I supposed to make a short list of that?!

Tamara de Lempicka "Kizette in Pink" Source:
Alfons Mucha "Spring" Source: Wikipedia


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