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Hector Guimard

Biographies
Hector Guimard

*  1867 Lyon
† 1942 New York


Hector Guimard, who was an important French architect, interior designer and Art nouveau crafts designer, was born in Lyon in 1867. He studied in Paris from 1882 to 1885 at the École Nationale des Arts Décoratifs and in 1889 at the École des Beaux-Arts. Then he traveled to England and Belgium, where he saw the new buildings by the Belgian designer Victor Horta in Brussels, which would exert a lasting influence on his own work. Hector Guimard's first project in Paris was to design the interior of the restaurant "Au Grand Neptune". This interior decoration commission was followed by several for private dwellings in and around Paris. Hector Guimard's most important work is Castel Béranger, a town house at 60, rue La Fontaine 60, which was built between 1894 and 1897. The best-known Guimard works are, however, the ornamental entrances to the Paris Métro stations he designed (1903) in wrought iron, bronze, and glass. Hector Guimard advanced to the status of leading exponent of the Art nouveau style, which in France is often called the "Guimard style" . In the portfolio "L'art dans l'Habitation Moderne" (1898), Hector Guimard presented a documentation of building Castel Béranger, with designs and photographs of the work in progress. Hector Guimard was the most cogent and coherent theorist advocating the unity of architecture and interior decoration, which he conceived as total works of art. Hector Guimard's all-encompassing intention as a designer omits no element of daily living; no detail was regarded as too unimportant for his notice. The most commonly used Art nouveau motifs include nature, natural motifs such as blossoms and stems, tendrils and twigs. The organic verve with which line was executed, the handling of script, and the repertoire of motifs all observe these stylistic principles. In 1920 Hector Guimard submitted his first designs for standardized mass-produced furniture. However, with the rise of the austere Art déco style and the concomitant change in formal intention, Hector Guimard went out of fashion. In 1938 Hector Guimard emigrated to New York, where he died in 1942.