Art Nouveau was truly the “new art” and more significant than a reaction to Academism or fad that bubbled through Victorian restraints. Although, with the death of Queen Victoria it erupted into an era of nature-inspired originality. The form of flowers and symmetry of undulating lines were released from dictated shackles that kept the art world bound like Prometheus of Antiquity. While Art Nouveau was only popular for twenty years, 1890-1910, it had a lasting effect on every medium of art, leaving a lineage still found today. The way the new art influenced everything from architecture to advertising and cufflinks to paintings shows how desperate the world was for a worldly reflection.
Art Nouveau is what is called a “total art style”, meaning that it found expression in all man-made creations. The easiest way to see how Art Nouveau weaved its way into all manners of art is to look at the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle. This art exhibition displayed everything from architecture to furniture and jewelry. Throughout the expression of this art movement, you will notice soft curves and organic lines, linear patterns, more expression than realism, and the inclusion of insects or plants abound.
In jewelry, Art Nouveau changed the emphasis on a diamond center to an entire piece being the expression. With the diamond taking on a role as an element instead of the star, jewelers began experimenting with other materials and stones, such as enamel. In any medium of the time, it was clear that design and structure became one in ornamentation, amounting to a demonstration of the excess the 20th century was to offer.
The Missing Link is home to cufflinks and shirt studs from many eras and aesthetic movements, including Art Nouveau. Walking into the store or exploring the website itself can show you the evolution of jewelry and each era’s point of view on beauty. Here are some examples of this important point in the timeline of art:
These cufflinks come at the tail end of Art Nouveau’s popularity. A clear example of a diamond as a part of the piece instead of the cufflink catering to the diamond. The curve of the rooster’s wings encapsulates the diamond resting in the beak. These cufflinks offer intricate subtly while posing the beauty of the new art.
The interesting thing about including the mermaid in these cufflinks is that Art Nouveau arose in France during a time when Women’s Rights were being debated. In many aspects of this new art movement, there is an emphasis on feminity and softness in shape. Cufflinks like these aren’t just art or decoration but can be thought of as vestiges of a political struggle from the turn of the century. These 100-year old cufflinks are quite astounding and elegant, all the more impressive because they contain no jewels or stones. It is pure symmetry and craftsmanship circa the early 1900s and coming in the original box.
Though the popularity of Art Nouveau was short-lived, it was a catalyst for the 20th-century aesthetics. An important turning point around the world it rose from the Arts and Crafts Movement to its successor Art Deco. Art Nouveau blended the astounding beauty of nature and all its creatures into decadent forms adorned by the upper classes. The sun may have set on the turn of the century aesthetics, but Art Nouveau will always be the new art; a turning point and transformation where so many elements were woven into one beautiful expression.
Welcome to the Missing Link, unearthed.