Press Release

The Allure of Art Nouveau: 1890 through 1914


CONTACT: Charles Schuler
Director of Communications
San Francisco International Airport


The Allure of Art Nouveau: 1890–1914
New exhibition explores the enchanting style of Art Nouveau with an array of sculpture, silver, glass, ceramics, and furniture

SAN FRANCISCO -- Art Nouveau captivated urban centers in Europe and North America beginning in the 1890s. The style permeated everything from graphic arts to architecture, interior design, and decorative arts. A number of characteristics define the style: a reverence for nature with an emphasis on organic designs; the use of “whiplash” curvilinear lines; and a seemingly limitless portrayal of the female form, with artists depicting women as ethereal, sensual nymphs. Motifs were interpreted in both realistic and stylized fashions.


A vibrant group of artists and designers fostered the style, such as painter and illustrator Alphonse Mucha, architect Victor Horta, art glass pioneers Emile Gallé and Louis Comfort Tiffany, and furniture maker Louis Majorelle. Referred to as Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionstil in Austria, Glasgow Style in Scotland, and Modernisme in Spain, each country’s interpretation of the style varied. All of its proponents, however, encouraged artists, architects, and designers to create innovative, modern designs. Designers emphasized the creation of holistic decorative interiors and sought to bring artistic design into daily life. The 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle celebrated all aspects of the new ‘modern style.’ Visited by fifty-one million people, the fair displayed Art Nouveau architecture, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, graphic arts, glass, textiles, and metalwork.


Art Nouveau’s popularity waned by the start of the First World War. Many began to shun the style’s excessive use of ornamentation, considering it overly elaborate. Decades later, the style experienced a popular revival in the 1960s, particularly in San Francisco when psychedelic poster artists began emulating the work of Art Nouveau graphic artists.


View the exhibition online.


The Allure of Art Nouveau: 1890–1914 is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from February 13, 2016 to August 14, 2016. There is no charge to view the exhibition.


SFO Museum

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit Follow us on,, or




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