Art Nouveau & Art Deco: how to tell the difference

A few weeks ago I had the occasion to research Art Deco – just for some inspiration – and what I found, simply by typing “Art Deco” into Google Image Search, was that a lot of people put Art Nouveau pieces on their Art Deco pages. So either they can’t tell the two art movements apart or they just don’t really care.

For those of you that do care, this post is for you! You and your friends! Tell everyone!

(I’ll be talking just about 2D art, but the differences are obvious in jewelry, sculpture, and buildings too. This video by Spencer Thompson talks about Nouveau and Deco architecture.)

Some examples first:

Art Nouveau Art Deco
popular 1890-1918 popular 1918-1945
stylized organic forms geometric forms
pale & medium pastel colors vivid colors, metallics
harmonious colors high contrast colors
strong outlines usual lack of outlines
mostly asymmetrical mostly symmetrical
glorification of Nature glorification of machines
curvy, Classical women thin, athletic women
influenced by art of Japan influenced by art of ancient cultures
revival in the 1960s revival in the 1980s

It’s not hard to tell them apart now!

*Go to this House of Turquoise page for the rest of the building with the turquoise door.
**The doors are a little tricky, but note that the Chrystler elevator door is symmetrical and has high-contrast wood panels.



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