Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Nouveau's & Neo-Calvinist Organicism

Art Nouveau is known for it's organic forms: Stile Floreal, Lilienstil, Style Nouille, Paling Stijl, and Wellenstil. The interest in organic nature proceeded from a sense of life's order lost or perverted amidst urban industrial stress. Art Nouveau builds on the arts and crafts movement and it's resistance against the results of industrialisation during the second half of the 19th century. It even spread to the US.

Smart businessman Siegfried Bing noticed this inclusive international style based on organic forms early on. Inspired by Bing's Salon de L'art nouveau in Paris and with help of his relative Chris Wegerif John Uiterwijk started the Arts and Crafts gallery in the Hague in 1898. It was there that Thorn Prikker started experimenting with batik in quite the same way Bing integrated Japanese art into Art Nouveau:
'The influence of Japan was very strong in the first years of the Dutch design reform movement. But the Eastern inspiration in the Netherlands was not confined to Japan. Art forms from the colonial Dutch East Indies were also influential in Dutch decorative art. This is seen most clearly in the artistic use of batik.'

Michel Duco Crop and Johan Jacobs built the Dutch brand of Vlisco inspired by the arts and crafts movement.

G K Chesterton's distributism, based on catholic social teaching, was influenced by the main developer of the arts and crafts movement, William Morris. William Morris in turn was influenced by writer and artist John Ruskin. James Eglinton writes:
'Alois Hirt was the first to use the therm organisch in the realm of architecture (1809). Samuel Coledridge set a trend for organicist poetry that was followed by John Ruskin and Isaac Williams.'
Peter S. Heslam writes in 1999 about the similarities between Kuyper and Ruskin:

'Kuyper's perception of art as a new form of popular religion is crucial to under­standing why he gave so much attention in his works to the subject of the arts. As the leader of a social and religious movement that relied heavily on popular support, he was intensely aware of the emergence of new social and religious trends, and took every opportunity he could to demonstrate that Calvinism provided a viable alternative for ordinary people in contemporary society'
Abraham Kuyper quotes John Ruskin approvingly in his book on common grace. As I wrote in a blogpost last year:
'reading Klaas Schilder reminds me of Jazz and Art Nouveau because of the effort to connect with nature, every day life and the emphasis and strong rejection of class society.'

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