This exhibition at the Sainbury Centre for Visual Arts explores the drama and spectacle of early 20th century life. The majority of works, are on loan from the Victor and Gretha Arwas Collection and the show also marks a collaboration to establish the Victor and Gretha Arwas Foundation dedicated to the study and presentation of Art Nouveau.
Sense and Sensuality presents some 65 works drawn from the Arwas Collection, the Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau (already in the Sainsbury Centre holdings), and from various other private collections. Following on from the 2012 exhibition, The First Moderns: Art Nouveau, from Nature to Abstraction, which focused on Art Nouveau as the forerunner of international Modern design, this exhibition looks at those Art Nouveau designers who were interested in the darker, more complex side of life. The show embraces the sensuality of Art Nouveau, which at times is risqué, and features a wide range of works from sculpture, graphics, and books to ceramics, glass and furniture. Early examples include Felix Vallotton's (1865-1925) great original poster L'Art Nouveau (fig. 1), the first public presentation of the name when it appeared outside Siegfried Bing's Maison de l'Art Nouveau in 1895, and Aubrey Vincent Beardsley's (1872-1898) magnificent Salome prints (fig. 2), which many believe to be the first true works in the style. Masterpieces by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), Maurice Bouval (1863-1916), Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), François-Raoul Larche (1860-1912), Paul François Berthoud (1870-1939), Jean-Joseph Carriès (1855-1894), and many others, make this a delicious display of fin de siècle art and design.
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Maurice Bouval (1863-1916)
Sommeil ou La Femme aux Pavots (Sleep or
Woman with Poppies), 1900
Gilt bronze on marble base, 45 x 26 x 18 cm
Arwas Archives. Photo: Pete Huggins