Reviews - What do customers think about Art Nouveau and Theatre Art: In the Rhythm of Life?
art nouveau's prevalence in early modernist theater Feb 20, 2008
Art Nouveau is seen as "a utopian counter-concept to the bleak living conditions in large cities" in the latter 1800s and early 1900s. Gymnastics, ideas about personal and communal hygiene, relaxed sexuality, and loose, flowing clothing were varied facets of the values of Art Nouveau. Although Art Nouveau in the world of theater has not received much study as a distinct subject, Buchholz points out that Richard Wagner's theory of the stage is the origination of Art Nouveau. The German word "Gesamtkunstwerk...generally applied to encompass the intersection of all the decorative arts in Art Nouveau" was first used mostly for the interrelated arts of theater (e. g., costuming, scenery, movement) as developed by Wagner.
The costuming, set designs, posters, programs, dance, directing, plays (e. g., Oscar Wilde's "Salome"), and theater design that were facets of Art Nouveau are all shown in heavily-illustrated chapters. Though the main text is in German, the many recognizable, interconnected illustrations in each chapter enable readers to readily comprehend the matter and lesson of the particular topic even though they cannot read German. For example, the photographs of Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan, and others in the chapter Dance (Der Tanz in German) along with period photographs of dance troupes in natural settings or performance scenes relate the signature personalities, movements, costuming, and ideals of Art Nouveau theater. The one-page summaries in English then mostly augment and in some instances modify the comprehension from the visual material. Likewise, photographs of Oscar Wilde, Henrik Ibsen, Rudolf Steiner, and other writers in the chapter The Plays (Die Werke) identify the literary sources of the major turn-of-the-century theatrical style.
The subject of Art Nouveau theater is both expanded and given new, informative focus. It is expanded in that its diversified sources and influences are surveyed. It is given focus in that Art Nouveau theater is seen as incorporating and also disseminating primary social values and styles of the time so that it is recognized as one of the first art movements of modernism.