This post comes to us from Jenny Haskins, Curatorial Intern.
Art Nouveau (or “New Art”) was a brief, but significant movement occurring in the late-19th to early-20th centuries. It had a powerful influence on other movements, including Art Deco and Modernism. The spirit of Art Nouveau will visit the New Britain Museum’s McKernan Gallery when The Brilliance of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Painter and Craftsman replaces Toulouse-Lautrec and His World. The two exhibitions are appropriately sequenced since Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s (1864–1901) highly decorative lithographs are considered to have given way to the Art Nouveau movement, though the exact initial source is arguable and vague. Although I am sad to know that the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit will eventually come to an end, it is exciting that the work of an artist who was a major influence on the American Art Nouveau movement will be taking its place.
It is easy to recognize Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) as essential to the flourishing of American decorative arts during the turn of the 20th century. He was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812–1902), the founder of one of my favorite jewelers, Tiffany & Co. Although Tiffany worked closely with his father’s renowned company (he became the first design director of the company upon his father’s passing), his primary interest remained in art. Tiffany was a successful paintiner, not to mention a prolific designer of stained glass, lamps, mosaics, metal work, ceramics and jewelry. In 1885, he created Tiffany Studios, a glass manufacturing and design company that made lamps, stained glass windows and vases with the assistance of skillful designers and artisans. It wasn’t long before Tiffany became an international sensation.