Rapid industrialisation generated a construction boom in many cities in Europe. Architecture was a statement of national modernity and aesthetic taste. Art Nouveau styles could be recognized from Alesund to Vienna, and seen in the pavilions constructed for the world trade fairs. Fluid wrought-iron designs and architectural stoneware brought a distinctive and luxurious presence to the exterior of buildings and bridges. For architects, industrial wealth and ambition attracted commissions from state and industry as well as private clients, where every element of the environment, inside and out, could be designed.
Architects producing sinuous styles in Brussels included Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, and Paul Saintenoy but most famously, Belgian architect Victor Horta (1861-1947). His work was defined by light, open-planned spaces and innovative use of ironwork. Many of Horta’s buildings were private commissions for industrialists including Emile Tassel and Armand Solvay. The Maison du Peuple was a complex of shops designed for the Belgian Workers’ Party (Horta was a freemason). In Paris, architect and designer Hector Guimard (1867-1942) developed an abstract flowing style, although calling himself Architect d’art did not endear him to the art world. Commissions included Maison Coillet in Lisle, Castel Béranger and the designs for Metro stations built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, which combined linear forms with industrial construction methods.
Decoration and Form
Austrian architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918) was a bridge between two generations of architects in Vienna. After designing the earliest Jugendstil buildings in Vienna, he joined his students Josef Hoffman and Joseph Maria Olbrich in the Vienna Secession, founded in 1897. The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt. The Munich Secession had taken place five years earlier. A German team was commissioned for the Krásnohorské Podhradie Mauzóleum in Slovenia, built in 1904. Aristocrat Dionýz Andrássy married Františka Hablavcova against his family’s wishes. Following her death after 36 years of marriage, he built an Art Nouveau style mausoleum in her memory. It was designed and built by Richard Berndl and Constantine Frick with sculptural decoration by Max Frick and Eduard Schmucker.
In Finland, turbulent political events created a desire to merge new styles with Finnish traditions. The pavilion created for the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900 by the Helsinki architects Eliel Saarinen, Hermann Gesellius and Armas Lindgren, combined awareness in art and design trends with mythological references in a stylised way. The Spanish form of Art Nouveau was modernista, and in Barcelona, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) created a highly individual plasto-organic style, drawing on Gothic and Moorish traditions. Between 1900 and 1914, Gaudi also worked on a project for Eusebi Güell that was inspired by the English Garden City movement, an approach to urban planning. In 1883 he was appointed director of works for the Sagrada Familia Cathedral: a project he worked on until his death.