In response to this, I have written this article that I hope will sufficiently distinguish between the two styles to the point where little or no question about which is which.
Beginning with the more popular art deco, which was a style of design that was made popular during the 1920’s, after the decline of the art nouveau style. Art deco is best identified by stylized and geometric designs, bold colors, and the use of plastic and glass. Art deco is an eclectic and artistic design form that has its origins in Paris, France during the early 1920’s. Art Deco was popular in virtually all areas of design, including architecture, art, sculpture, fashion, film, and more. It was considered elegant, glamorous, modern and functional. It survived as a popular style of design up through the early years of World War Two. It should be remembered that just because something is done in the art deco style, it may not necessarily be from the 1920’s or 30’s. The art deco style experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 1960’s, and which continued up into the 1980’s, especially in the areas of graphic design and art.
Here are some examples of Art Deco, in various design settings:
Art Nouveau was an earlier style of design, dating back to the early 1880’s, which found its birth in the French schools of art and architecture. Art nouveau is best characterized and recognized by stylized natural forms, softer or muted colors, and the use of natural objects such as leaves, vines and flowers. Other common themes contain females with long tendril-like hair, scarves, and flowing robes and dresses; as well as long free flowing curves throughout the design.
As popular as it was, the art nouveau style of design had virtually run its course as a popular style, by the beginning of World War One (roughly around 1915-16).
Here are some examples of Art Nouveau, in various design settings:
Remember to keep in mind when you come across a possible piece of art deco or art nouveau, art deco is harder and more geometric, while art nouveau is softer, more flowing and often contains organic objects within its design.
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