Modern Style in England
Art Nouveau in England is also known as Modern Style. This terms partly overlaps with the Arts and Crafts Movement, but also comprises works by artists which did not share William Morris's ideas. What all representatives of Modern Style have in common is the same fascination for the art of the Pre-Raphaelites and Gothic.
The most famous and most successful artist of Modern Style, without any doubt, is the autodidactic illustrator Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898). Based on Pre-Raphaelite art and Japanese woodcuts in colors, Beardsley created a personal style that was based on the expressive powers of the graphic line and the two-dimensional surface. To him, the line had its own meaning and was the carrier of a composition's harmony. His conscious usage of the graphic medium is in accordance with a modality of Art Nouveau that was widely spread, especially in the German language region and was then continued by abstraction.
Beardsley illustrated prose, such as poetry and was also working for the modern magazines "The Studio" and "The Yellow Book". His works were characterized by estheticism and decadence. The illustrations' decorative character was the reason for Beardsley's success in Vienna at the turn of the century, but also the indignant criticism of William Morris, who accused him of being frivolous, contributed to his gain in popularity. His explicit use of sex as a topic triggered both fascination and controversy.
Another Modern Style representative is Charles Ricketts (1866-1931). The models of his versatile work were, besides Japanese woodcuts and the Pre-Raphaelites, ancient pottery painting. Charles Ricketts illustrated most of Oscar Wilde's works. His illustrations are committed to Symbolism and far less polemic than those of Beardsley.