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The Réseau Art Nouveau Network: European cooperation for the enhancement of Art Nouveau

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Today's Art Nouveau season guest post comes from Anne-Lise Alleaume of Réseau Art Nouveau Network

What you call Art Nouveau depends on where you come from: it could be Jugendstil, Glasgow Style, Sezessionstil, Nieuwe Kunst, Stile Liberty, Modernisme, Ecole de Nancy or other names.

Every European centre of Art Nouveau had its own name and character, influenced by local culture, history and materials. When it emerged in the late 19th century, Art Nouveau was driven by a particular set of aesthetic ideals and an enthusiasm for modernity.

It exploited the possibilities offered by new industrial technologies and materials, combining an aspiration to beauty with meticulous craftsmanship. The result was a wonderful concordance of architecture, furniture, and decoration.

Joseph Maria Olbrich, Deiters House, Darmstadt, 1901 © Institut Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt/Bildarchiv Foto Marburg. Photograph: Norbert Latocha.

The advent of the First World War hastened the decline of Art Nouveau, which became the target of strong criticism and general disinterest. Although many Art Nouveau masterpieces are recognised today, just as many remarkable examples remain unknown to the public and subject to scant protection.

For these reasons, a European network was established to protect and promote Art Nouveau heritage. In 1999, the Brussels-Capital Region took the initiative to identify and connect with iconic Art Nouveau cities (Barcelona, Nancy, Glasgow, Budapest, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Nancy, Palermo, Riga, Vienna) around a common programme of activities. Together these cities obtained funding from the European Commission for the foundation of a network.

Lluis Muncunill, Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover, Terrassa,  1907 © Réseau Art Nouveau Network. Photograph: Serge Brison.

Eighteen years later, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network (RANN) has become an association of more than twenty institutions representing cities or regions with significant Art Nouveau heritage. The Network also includes cities with less celebrated, but noteworthy, Art Nouveau character such as Terrassa, Darmstadt and Aveiro.

In recent years, the Network has extended into towns in central Europe and the Balkans like Oradea, Subotica and Szeged. Regardless of Network members’ diverse backgrounds, they share the conviction that the pooling of best practice and research at European level is essential to the effective preservation and promotion of our Art Nouveau heritage.

Komor Marcell & Jakab Dezső Sinagoga, Sinagoga, Subotica, 1902 © Photograph : Željko Vukelić. The synagogue is currently under restoration.

Thanks to the support of the European Commission, RANN has been able to develop collaborative research projects and to deliver many public events. Since 2001, a series of discrete projects has focussed on different aspects of Art Nouveau, such its socio-economic context and on the link between Art Nouveau and ecology.

View of the exhibition The Nature of Art nouveau, presented in Brussels, 2013 © Marcel Vanhulst.

The Network hosts conference events for professionals, educational activities for young people, bilateral exchanges of good practices between members and travelling exhibitions.

Having been mounted in fourteen member cities, the exhibition The Nature of Art Nouveau is now on at the Darvas La Roche House in Oradea and the Palacio del Secundo Cabo in La Habana. Every year on 10 June, RANN organises Art Nouveau World Day which includes public activities like photo competitions.

Currently, Network members are preparing a project dedicated to Art Nouveau interiors. To learn more about the Réseau Art Nouveau Network and Art Nouveau news, subscribe to their newsletter or find out how to join, visit Why not check out our Art Nouveau exhibition too?

Art Nouveau art