During the Twentieth Century there were three consecutive architectural styles used in the United States. These styles tend to be mixed up, so this page attempts to straighten everything out. The styles are the following:
Art Nouveau is sometimes called the New Free Style and the architectural design originated from fabric and graphic designs, most of which were very decorative and featured botanical shapes.
It was in Europe during the 1880's when designers decided to contradict tradition and work freely and imaginatively. As a result, a dominant aspect of Art Nouveau is asymmetrical shapes, which went contrary to the symmetrical designs of Renaissance, which preserved the Ancient Greek and Roman styles all featuring symmetry.
American architect Louis Sullivan (1856 - 1924) used Art Nouveau free styles in his designs. He believed the asymmetrical function added to the adornments of his work.
Moving into the 20th century when the times were changing quickly, the Art Nouveau style rapidly disbanded after only fifteen years (1890-1905). The 20th century was also an introduction to new technology due to the Industrial Revolution of 1865. With this, society became more intrigued with precise machinery. The New Free Style was no longer popular as geometric complexity overtook elaborate hand design. The elegant Art Nouveau period reflected style of personal uniqueness, but unfortunately it became only a fad.
Art Deco is a style of its own. It features zigzag patterns and vertical lines. Both are used to jazz up Art Deco buildings. The style reached a peak between 1925 and 1935. The Chrysler Building is a prime example of Art Deco buildings. It was built in 1930 by William Van Alen. It now stands in New York, New York.
As the preferred style of residential housing in the late 1930's, Art Moderne features rounded corners, horizontal tendencies, and smooth surfaces, which are all contrary to Art Deco. It was new technology that permitted the development of Art Moderne. The style made use of glass blocks, stainless steel, curved window glass, aluminum, and other special products.
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