Art Nouveau (r/; French: [aʁ nuvo]) is an international style of art, architecture and applied art, especially the decorative arts, known in different languages by different names: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme in Catalan, etc. In English it is also known as the Modern Style (not to be confused with Modernism and Modern architecture). The style was most popular between 1890 and 1910. It was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or "whiplash" curves, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces.
One major objective of Art Nouveau was to break down the traditional distinction between fine arts (especially painting and sculpture) and applied arts. It was most widely used in interior design, graphic arts, furniture, glass art, textiles, ceramics, jewelry and metal work. The style responded to leading 19-century theoreticians, such as French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814–1879) and British art critic John Ruskin (1819–1900). In Britain, it was influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. German architects and designers sought a spiritually uplifting Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”) that would unify the architecture, furnishings, and art in the interior in a common style, to uplift and inspire the residents.
From Belgium and France, it spread to the rest of Europe, taking on different names and characteristics in each country (see Naming section below). It often appeared not only in capitals, but also in rapidly growing cities that wanted to establish artistic identities (Turin and Palermo in Italy; Glasgow in Scotland; Munich and Darmstadt in Germany), as well as in centres of independence movements (Helsinki in Finland, then part of the Russian Empire; Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain).
By 1910, Art Nouveau's influence had faded. It was replaced as the dominant European architectural and decorative style first by Art Deco and then by Modernism.
The term art nouveau was first used in the 1880s in the Belgian journal L'Art Moderne to describe the work of Les Vingt, twenty painters and sculptors seeking reform through art. The name was popularized by the Maison de l'Art Nouveau ("House of the New Art"), an art gallery opened in Paris in 1895 by the Franco-German art dealerSiegfried Bing. In Britain, the French term Art Nouveau was commonly used, while in France, it was often called by the term Style moderne (akin to the British term Modern Style), or Style 1900. In France, it was also sometimes called Style Jules Verne (after the novelist Jules Verne), Style Métro (after Hector Guimard's iron and glass subway entrances), Art Belle Époque, or Art fin de siècle.
Art Nouveau is related to, but not identical with, styles that emerged in many countries in Europe at about the same time. Their local names were often used in their respective countries to describe the whole movement.
In Belgium, it was sometimes termed Style coup de fouet ("Whiplash style"), Paling Stijl ("Eel style"), or Style nouille ("Noodle style") by its detractors.
In Germany and Scandinavia, it was called Reformstil ("Reform style"), or Jugendstil ("Youth style"), after the popular German art magazine of that name, as well as Wellenstil ("Wave style"), or Lilienstil ("Lily style"). It is now called Jugend in Finland and Sweden, Juugend in Estonia, and Jūgendstils in Latvia.
In Denmark, it is known as Skønvirke ("Work of beauty").
In Italy, because of the popularity of designs from London's Liberty & Co department store, it was often called Stile Liberty ("Liberty style"), Stile floreale ("Floral style"), or Arte nuova ("New Art").