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The development of architecture reflects major concepts of the development of society. Thus, in the end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth century two rival architectural styles flourished: the Art Nouveau and the Art & Crafts. The former was concerned with reflecting the beauty of the nature and the use of new forms and materials. The latter was focused on the use of technology. The two works of the two representatives of both styles can reveal the difference between these two quite opposite styles.
Guimard and the Art Nouveau
The Art Nouveau was inspired by the diversity of the organic form (Silverman 1). Architects sought to mimic the forms presented in nature. They believed that artificial decoration of previous styles is deprived of vitality.
Thus, Guimard, one of the most famous architects and one of the brightest representatives of the Art Nouveau was really impressed when he saw the works of Victor Horta (Hanser 133). Guimard understood that the real beauty can only be found in nature. In fact, he was so impressed that he even changed his ongoing project, Castel Beranger.
Initially, it was a designed as a building characterized by strict lines. The construction already started so Guirmard could only change decoration. However, even these changes enabled the architect to manifest the ideas of the Art Nouveau. He uses metal to decorate balconies and entrance. The entrance resembles a bizarre tree which holds the entire building. The balconies of the Castel seem to be covered by some procumbent plant.
This work is often regarded as transitional in the career of Guimard since it is performed in two styles. However, this building should be regarded as one of the best examples of the Art Nouveau since even decoration can manifest the major ideas of this style, i.e. the rule of the beauty of organic forms.
Wright and the Art & Craft
In the very end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth century people were inspired by the ideas of technological development. People believed that machines can indeed help them change the world for better. Basically, this is the major concept in the Art & Craft which also developed in that period.
F.L. Wright who is regarded as one of the major figures in the Art & Crafts movement reflected the ideas of the movement in his essay “The Art and Craft of the Machine” (Wright 51). Wright claims that technology is the key to achieving the major aims of architect who can concentrate on his art leaving realization of his/her ideas to machines.
Such Wright’s works as Prairie Houses can be regarded as very good examples of the Art & Craft movement in architecture. These houses are designed for people’s comfort using the latest technologies (McCarter 76). These houses are characterized by simple forms which serve the only one purpose, creating comfort for people. No hazard decoration is used in contrast to the Art Nouveau style. The Art & Craft movement is not concerned with mimicking nature, but concentrates on the use of the latest technology which should serve people’s needs.
In conclusion, it is possible to state that the two architectural styles, the Art Nouveau and the Art & Crafts, serve different gods and are very different. Thus, the Art Nouveau focuses on reflecting the beauty of nature mimicking its forms, whereas the Art & Crafts concentrates on technology and comfort for people. The two architects, Guimard and Wright, are the two representatives of these styles, who articulated their ideas about the aims and goals of art in their works.
Hanser, David A. Architecture of France. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.
McCarter, Robert. Frank Lloyd Wright. London: Reaktion Books, 2006.
Silverman, Debora L. Art Nouveau in Fin-De-Siècle France: Politics, Psychology, and Style. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992.
Wright, Frank Lloyd. “The Art and Craft of the Machine.” Coles, William A. Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles. New York: Ardent Media, 1961. 51-58.