Natures of Art Nouveau
The Natures of Art Nouveau exhibition highlights the role of nature in art and architecture across Europe at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The name of the exhibition has many meanings. On one hand it refers to botanical and zoological themes, which were prominent in objects and buildings in both the flourishing styles favoured in Western Europe and the more austere Jugend style popular in Finland.
On the other hand, the exhibition also highlights the ideological phenomena and the scientific breakthroughs behind the style, which were reflected in the creative work and works of artists and architects.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the development of photography and the invention of the microscope revealed things about nature that could not be seen with the naked eye, and the newfound beauty of micro-organisms, plants and minerals inspired new kinds of ornamentation.
At the same time, Japanese art became popular and inspired people to depict nature in a more delicate manner. As a result, nature gained new metaphorical, even mystical meanings.
The wiry curved lines that are typical of Art Nouveau illustrated the sensuality and vitality of nature. Plants, animals and the elements of nature intertwined in imaginative, dream-like pieces.
The poetic and exuberantly illustrated and colourful exhibition was scripted by Teresa-M. Sala, Professor of Art History from the University of Barcelona, and visualised by Carles Fargas and Antoni Garau, who also hail from Barcelona.
In Helsinki, the exhibition has also gained some additional Finnish content. The exhibition is supplemented by free exhibition publications for both children and adults.
Helsinki in the network of Art Nouveau cities
Helsinki is a significant European Art Nouveau – or Jugend, as it is called in Finland – city, with an extensive and valuable cultural heritage going as far back as the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
Helsinki is a member of the EU-funded Réseau Art Nouveau Network, which links together the twenty most important Art Nouveau cities in Europe. The Helsinki City Museum represents Helsinki in the network’s operations.
In June 2013, the network received a Special Mention of the Jury from the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards in the category of education, training and awareness-raising. The network carries out this mission in many ways, including the organisation of exhibitions. The latest exhibition, Natures of Art Nouveau, will tour the network’s member cities starting from Helsinki and Brussels.
History of the museum building