Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Art Nouveau Brussels

One of the things I loved about Brussels was the abundance of Art Nouveau architecture. In fact, Brussels is considered to be the birthplace of the Art Nouveau movement. You'll see examples of it all around the city once you start looking for them.

One day, I looked out my kitchen window at the building across the street and noticed a bit of Art Nouveau detail above the windows and was inspired. So in my last few weeks of living there, I decided to map out an Art Nouveau tour for myself. I researched online and compiled a list of must-see addresses. But the funny thing is that several of the photos here are of shop or cafe fronts I just happened to walk by. Or, in the case of Cafe Le Perroquet - where the Art Nouveau is in the interior details - somewhere I just happened to pop into for a coffee.

Some are subtle, with just a few vine-like bends in the iron railing. Some are explosions of Art Nouveau, from the curve of the front step to the tops of the rounded windows and everything in between.

The building across the street from our flat ~ Rue de Teinturiers

Flower Shop ~ Rue Royale 13

Antique Shop ~ Rue Madeleine 8

Cafe ~ Rue Lombard 25

Flower shop ~ Rue Lebeau 63

Shop ~ Rue de l'Hopital 27

Cafe La Kartchma ~ Place du Grand Sablon 17

Cafe Le Perroquet ~ Rue Watteau 31 (also in Sablon area)

More colorful stained glass in the windows of Le Perroquet

Interior detail of Le Perroquet

More interior

Lots of the street lamps in Brussels are Art Nouveau inspired

Facade of a building in the Ixelles area of Brussels

Hotel Hannon ~ Avenue de la Jonction 1

Les Hiboux (next door to Hannon) ~ Avenue Brugmann 55

Detail of les hiboux (the owls) above the front door

Old England Building ~ Rue Montagne de la Cour 2

Ceiling detail inside Old England

Ironwork on elevator in Old England

Old England was originally a department store but now houses the Museum of Musical Instruments.

Cauchie House ~ Rue des Francs 5

Detail of the mural

Monsieur and Madame Cauchie
Decorators
Private Applied Arts Courses
Painting
Drawing
Embroidery
Various Applications

I'd say they did a pretty bang up job on their advert there, wouldn't you? If the building facade - which was designed by them - is anything to go by, I suppose they're pretty qualified to give art lessons.

Now, the following building is the one I took Suze to see and it was covered by scaffolding. One weekend later, however...scaffolding be gone. Jason and I found ourselves in the general area on our last weekend in Brussels and since we were nearby, I wanted to take him to see the square. We walked up and this was staring back at me in all its Art Nouveau glory. Of course, I was a total asshole and emailed Suze a photo from my iPhone with the subject line "Jealous?" I'm a bitch like that.

Saint Cyr House ~ Square Ambiorix 11

Amazing symmetrical brickwork

Detail of the freshly painted ironwork

Tremendous attention to detail in every nook and cranny of the front entrance

The remainder of the photos (except the bus stop) are all Victor Horta creations. Horta is generally known as the father of Art Nouveau. He took Art Nouveau inspiration from the decorative arts and applied it to architecture. The detail in some of his work is awe-inspiring.

Detail of Autrique House ~ Chausee de Haecht 266 (1893)

Autrique House was Horta's first townhouse built in the Art Nouveau style. It's very subtle with only small touches here and there. In fact, I walked right by it twice before I realized this was the place I was looking for.

Fisson House ~ Rue Lebeau 37 (1894)

Bus stop for Avenue Palmerston at Square Ambiorix

Van Eetvelde House ~ Avenue Palmerston 4 (1895)

Ironwork outside Van Eetvelde House

Victor Horta's Home and Studio ~ Rue Americaine 25 (1898)

Front door

Even the mail slot is distinctly Art Nouveau

Every minute detail attended to

The interior of Horta's house was like nothing I've ever seen. These facade photos barely skim the surface. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside. Probably because there would be total gridlock, with people just standing around taking photos of every single corner of every single room. It's that amazing.

This is a photo I found online, of the stairwell in Tassel House, just to give you just a tiny taste of what the interior of a true Horta designed building is like.

So there you have it. Cribs...Art Nouveau edition.

3 comments:

Aisling said...

ouch, I miss Brussels so much it hurts! I'm an Art Nouveau lover too and can't believe I haven't visited some of the places you listed - but then that means I must plan a trip ;)

AND THIS! Saint Cyr House ~ Square Ambiorix 11 - I could LIVE on those steps very happilly for the rest of my life.

Did you get to the Solvay Library? I tried emailing (don't have the French to phone) to arrange a viewing. If I get married again (to the same husband of course) I will do it somewhere like there.

Cyndi said...

Oh. My. Goodness. This is fabulous. I realize it isn't everyone's favorite era, but how wonderful to live in a whole world of Art Nouveau! Sigh. . .

704c6064-f222-11e0-a742-000bcdca4d7a said...

I LOVE your blog about the Art Nouveau in Brussels! sooo cool. I was in Brussels in the summer and did one of the Art Nouveau tours. and I am in the process of posting my Art Nouveau photos on Facebook.
Gail Jamieson in Halifax, Canada