Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Art Nouveau and Peter Behrens

About 20 years ago, my uncle gave me the coloring book seen to the left. At that point in time, I didn't know a thing about Art Nouveau. I knew what it looked like... the basic style of it, but didn't know about the history. While studying Art Nouveau in class last week I remembered this book. While reading through our textbook I found a familiar image that I didn’t realize was “famous” until now… Peter Behrens, The Kiss (seen on the right).

What I remember most about this coloring book is the bright, vibrant colors used in the image on the front of the book. The book has pictures printed on heavy weight vellum. When the pictures are colored and held up to the light, it simulates a stained glass window. It's a neat idea for a coloring book, and actually works like it's suppose to. The concept is interesting because it's marketed as an "adult" coloring book vs. something for children. When I did this picture, I colored it in the brightest colors of Crayons I had, completely opposite of the way that Behrens did the original woodblock print.

The original image is printed in muted browns with a gray background. It's easy to tell that this is an Art Nouveau image based on the curvilinear and organic line quality along with the flat shapes and colors. The couple portrayed in the image are abstract and don't fit into one demographic. The flowing shapes around the faces of the two people are actually their hair, intertwined. The muted colors and flowing hair are reminiscent of the work of Alphonse Mucha, and it's easy to see the influence of Japonisme by the flat forms and flat colors.

I'm curious to go to my parents house and dig up this old coloring book to see what other Art Nouveau images it contains.

1 comment:

lotusgreen said...

they still make it!:

one thing i never thought of before looking at this: two women? two men? man and woman? which is which?