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Art ā la Rue

"Art ā la Rue" was more of a social reformation movement, which was joined by some socialist artists and architects of the "Art Nouveau", such as Victor Horta, Hector Guimard and Frantz Jourdain, than a new style of art. The "Art ā la Rue" artists were most active in Brussels and Paris during the last decade of the 19th and the first years of the 20th century. The movement's objective was to bring art closer to the working class. Their ideas were nurtured by French socialism, the political theories of the Russian anarchist Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin and the later writings of William Morris, whereas they were making more radical demands for the connection between ethics and esthetics than the Arts and Crafts Movement.
The concept of a connection between life and art, which was characteristically for Art Nouveau, was differently interpreted by the artists of "Art ā la Rue". They were not interested in an artistic way of designing a middle-class living environment, as it was the case with many residential houses built around 1900 according to the principle of the building as a work of art. It was their intention to shift art's sphere of action, away from the (elitist) museum to the (public) street. Streets were decorated with colorful posters, the "street furniture" - traffic signs, fountains, lighting etc. - also became objects of the artists' desires. They wanted to make cities more comfortable and livable, additionally, they wanted to improve people's aesthetic sensibility.
Art on the street, according to the "Art ā la Rue" artists, was supposed to be spanning age groups and social classes. Their ethic concerns show that Art Nouveau did not only pursue an esthetic ideal, but that many artists were also committed to social changes. Thus they laid the basis for the utopia ideas of the 1920s.


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