Art at the barn.
The new fate of barn conversions can be surprisingly beautiful at times. This is certainly the case with The Blue Art Barn at Hoogeind 36, Leerdam in the Netherlands. What used to be the home of cows is now our delightful showroom. It is furnished with exclusive furniture, handmade ceramics, unique- but also collections of glass art, lighting, paintings, jewellery, sculptures, silver, tin, books, wall and window decorations and other extraordinary objects. The collection has its roots in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movement and blends into the Fifties as well.
The pieces from the Art Nouveau period fit marvellously in the showroom's atmosphere as it is surrounded by cow parsley and other native plants. The new movement originated around 1880 and is a response to Historicism. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, historical patterns (Roman, Gothic, Baroque) were blindly imitated and then incorporated in interiors. Art Nouveau artists, preferring the use of traditional older crafts, rejected the abundantly produced "curly kitsch" and searched for a new original style.
Two variations developed.
The representatives of the Curvilinear or Decorative Art Nouveau movement chose Nature as their most important source of inspiration. The elegant wavy lines of plants, animal patterns and melancholic female figures served as the basis of this style.
The designers of the Geometric Art Nouveau focused on straight lines and mathematical patterns. In Europe, this art movement has a different name in every language; The Spanish Modernismo, the German Jugendstil, the Austrian Sezession, the British Modern Style, the Italian Stile Liberty and the Dutch Nieuwe Kunst. Famous Dutch artists who worked in this style are: Jan Toorop, Hendrik Berlage, Chris van der Hoef and Lion Cachet.
The First World War abruptly put a stop to this original expression of art.
The name Art Deco is an abbreviation of the international exhibition "L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriëls Modernes" which was held in Paris in 1925. This was where the new style of design was shown for the first time to an international audience. While Art Deco originated in Paris after the First World War, it is almost universally known in most European countries as well as in the United States of America. The use of monumental geometrical shapes, which were inspired by African folk art as a logical result of the Geometric Art Nouveau movement, is one of the most important characteristics of Art Deco.
The Dutch version of Art Deco has its own history.
The Amsterdam School originated in 1910. It has an expressionistic, decorative and colourful designed style that also achieved great fame abroad. A good example of this style is the Tuschinski theatre in Amsterdam.
The Hague School represented the businesslike, sober, functional, focused design which features pure horizontal and vertical lines. A famous designer within this style is Hendrik Wouda.
De Stijl (The Style) was developed in 1917. This new movement was based on the idea to keep designs as simple and abstract as possible. It, for example, often used primary colours. Piet Mondriaan is generally considered the founder of this style. De Stijl laid the foundation for the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid (Functionalism), which aimed at a larger audience by using modern materials and machines. Additionally, the Gispen lighting and chairs particularly became a household name.
The Second World War ended the Art Deco movement. After the war - during the reconstruction - less artisanal, sleek, "snappy" models based on Art Deco shapes came about and this showed that a new style was born; the Fifties.