The term Jugendstil, derived from the Munich review Jugend (Youth), founded in January 1896, designates in the German-speaking countries, in which it was particularly developed, the movement known in England under the name of 'Modern Style', in France under that of Art Nouveau, and sometimes just called 1900 Style, because of its extreme vogue in Europe about that time. It was a sort of essentially decorative baroque and romantic resurgence, characterized by an exuberance of decoration based on plants and undulating forms, and was related more to fashion and taste than to art itself. Its historical importance and implications have been too lightly dismissed in the reaction against it. Even though the decorative arts and architecture were affected most of all, its effect on painting and the graphic arts was greater than many care to admit. The expressive or decorative line, with its sinuous contours, clearly appears in the last canvases of Van Gogh and of Seurat; is found in the wood engravings of Gauguin and Valotton; marks the entire work of Lautrec, and the early work of Munch, Hodler and Kokoschka, for example.
The artistic atmosphere of the end of the century was very complex, and it is difficult to isolate the specifically 1900 Style (which really first appeared in 1880 and did not really end till 1925). Symbol (vide Symbolism), décor and expression are the bywords of the PostImpressionist generation, which returned to the practice of drawing, of engraving in all its forms, and which took up eagerly the new techniques of illustration. The hero of the Modern Style in England was the amazing young mannerist Aubrey Beardsley ( 1872- 1898), illustrator of the Yellow Book. His success in Paris coincided with the prestige of Jacques-Emile Blanche and the rediscovery of Botticelli. In France Art Nouveau played an important role in the renaissance of the minor arts, thanks to the school of Nancy, directed by Emile Gallé ( 1846- 1904), and which also included, besides decorators, a few painters of talent ( Sellier, Friant, Victor Prouvé).
The Modern Style elements which can be detected in the list works of Seurat ( Le Chabut and, above all, Le Cirque) and of Van Gogh ( Saint-Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise periods) are developed in the engravings and decorative compositions of Gauguin and the Nabis, and also affect certain canvases of Matisse and the Fauves. It is in the poster, the dynamic creation of the period, that the most significant and highest expression must be sought, carried to the point of perfection by Lautrec and his emulators, Steinlen, Chéret and Cappiello. In 1896, in the Rue de Provence, the dealer Bing opened his Galerie de l'Art Nouveau and soon exhibited the work of the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. Munch frequented Mallarmé, designed the production of Peer Gynt for the Théâtre de l'Œuvre, and surrounded his pictures and drawings with allegorical and decorative borders in the spirit of Jugendstil, of which the most active centres were Barcelona, Munich and Vienna.
Barcelona, the centre of the Spanish cultural revival, where the fantastic architecture of Gaudi ( 1952- 1926) was being created, with its ornamentation of plant forms, was deeply penetrated by Nordic and Germanic influences. It was in this 'modernist' atmosphere that the genius of Picasso was being formed. His first drawings appeared in Joventut and Arte Joven, periodicals which were inspired by the Munich review Jugend. His first journey to Paris took place in 1900 and his 'blue period' showed him still under the influence of Lautrec and Steinlen.
In Germany, whose two artistic capitals were Munich and Berlin, the Jugendstil helped to break the fetters of traditionalism and encouraged new trends. The Secession group in Munich was created in 1892 with Franz Stuck, Trübner and Uhde, spurred by memories of Böcklin ( 18271901), who had lived in Munich eleven years before settling in Florence. It was presided over in 1897 by Max Klinger ( 1857- 1920), whose engravings the French symbolist poet Laforgue found enchanting. In January 1896 Georg Hirth began publishing the Jugend review with the collaboration of the best German artists. In 1899 Erler, Jank and Putz formed the Die Scholle group (The Land), which had some influence on Kandinsky, when he came to Munich in 1896, before he opened his own art school. The influence of the Jugendstil was also felt by the future members of the Brücke. In 1899 the Berlin Secession group was founded under the presidency of Max Liebermann. From 1895 to 1900 the review Pan put out by Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe, published drawings by Beardsley, wood engravings of Vallotton, etchings of Munch, and lithographs of Lautrec.
But it was in the cosmopolitan and fastidious Vienna of the end of the century that the Jugendstil found its supreme expression. Its uncontested leader was Gustav Klimt ( 1862- 1918), who executed the decoration of the University ( 19991900), and who remained, till 1905, president of the Secession, whence the name of Style of the Secession, which is still given to the Viennese version of Jugendstil. In January 1898 appeared Ver Sacrum, the Secession review. The group's exhibitions (notably that of Hodler in 1904) had a great success, and their headquarters, specially constructed in the taste of the day by Josef M. Olbrich, was opened on November 12th, 1899. The poets and musicians Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Peter Altenberg and Gustav Mahler were all part of this atmosphere of culture and aestheticism, which was evident also in the furniture, the jewellery and the objets d'art of the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Studio), created in 1903. Here, too, grew up the young Kokoschka (born in 1886), a fellow-pupil of Egon Schiele at the School of Decorative Arts, friend and protégé of the celebrated architect Adolf Loos. In 1908 Kokoschka exhibited the illustrations for his book Die Traümenden Knaben (The Boy Dreamers) in which can be recognized the double influence of Klimt, to whom the work is dedicated, and of Hodler, and which constitutes, by its refined sensibility of line and the decorative use of colour, perhaps the masterpiece of the Jugendstil.