At the end of the XIXth century, in reaction to the old academic buildings, reworked and not very creative, suddenly appears a totally innovative, rupturist architectural style.
Quickly baptized in Belgium and France, Art Nouveau, it developed throughout Europe and even in the United States and as far as Buenos Aires and Cuba. Made of curves, colors, rhythm, it was inspired by nature, trees, flowers, insects, shells, animals, whether indigenous, exotic, symbolist or mythical. The feminine figure was often superbly idealized. Each country had its tenors and its own styles: Hector Guimard in France, Antoni Gaudi in Spain, Otto Wagner in Austria, Charles R. Mackintosh in the United Kingdom for the most famous.
In Belgium, they were numerous, all remarkably inventive. Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, Gustave Strauven, Paul Cauchie, Ernest Blerot, Ernest Delune, Albert Rosenboom, and of course the master, Victor Horta, with an international reputation and who was the first to use the curved line.
Total art, all elements of architecture and interior decoration, were thought out, worked on, drawn to integrate with each other in harmony. Ironwork, bricks, stones, mosaics, woodwork, frescoes, stained-glass windows,… all visible elements such as ornaments and furniture respond to one another in an exuberant symphony of shapes, colors, materials, light.
Having reached such a climax, this particular style could only decline. Pushed in the back by a reductive and reactionary nationalism that saw creativity as a threat to their far-right ideas. The First World War saw the end for Art Nouveau which, in its geometric period, already gave way to Art Deco.
To learn all about Art Nouveau, visit the dedicated page on Wikipedia.
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