Art nouveau is one of the top reasons it's allways a pleasure to walk around Brussels. I previously wrote on the art nouveau and art deco event that takes place every two years in Brussels. The neighbourhood Ixelles is known as Matonge for it's African shops, bars and restaurants, but at the same time it's the neighbourhood of Victor Horta's Art Nouveau. Horta is one of the most important names in Art Nouveau architecture. Debora Silverman examined in her book Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siècle France the political, social, economic, intellectual, and artistic factors that influenced the development of art nouveau in France. The democratic development at the end of the 19th century all across Europe can be seen as part of a wider cultural and intellectual phenomenon that attempted to radically break with thinking of the past in order to transcend class- and cultural barriers and to find a new and deeper appreciation of nature. Art Nouveau and Jazz are expressions of this wider cultural phenomenon, as was, in my view, neocalvinism in the Netherlands in the first half of the twentieth century.
Karen Billiet has researched the Congolese roots of Art Nouveau. In the Belgian tv program "De Kunstkaravaan" she discussed this very intriguing topic with, among others, conservator Werner Adriaenssens of the Jubelparkmuseum in Brussels. A beautiful collection of pictures of Art nouveau buildings in Brussels on the webpage of the 'Art déco walk' in february 2011 specifically mentions and illustrates this African connection. The bi-annual Art Nouveau & Art Deco open doors tour in october 2011 was a great opportunity to take a look inside many of these beautiful buildings. Don't miss it in 2013!