Europe is known as the art capital of the world with art galleries galore. Many of the renowned artists came from Europe and their works are still there. During the early twentieth century, the art world saw a radical change that reflected the changing political views and pushed against the norms of the art world. This era became known as Avant-Garde art.
Within the early stages of this movement an architectural style and applied art called Art Nouveau developed. Artists believed that the Industrial Revolution of the late 1880s lacked creativity and individualism. Buildings were built for their efficiency and not for the aesthetic appeal. A group of architects headed by Belgian Victor Horta began to change this.
Brussels, Belgium became the center of the Art Nouveau world. Scattered throughout the city are homes, hotels, and office buildings that exhibit this art style. You can easily walk through the city of Brussels, finding the creations of Horta.
The first place to stop is Masion Horta on Rue Americaine. This house was Horta's residence. His home had been converted into a self guided museum. Take time to explore the house and introduce yourself to the Art Nouveau style. For Horta, Art Nouveau was not just an architectural style, but it was also a way to furnish to his home. The museum guides are helpful in pointing out other Horta houses and Art Nouveau houses in the city. Don't forget to pick up a brochure because it has a list of Horta's other works.
Next, a few roads over on Rue de l'Aqueduc is Maison Sander Pierron. This house was built in 1903 for a friend of Horta, Sander Pierron, a writer. While the house looks rather simple on the façade compared to Horta's own home, the large window and the door reflect the Art Nouveau style. The large window that juts out from the building, where the writer's office was, puts emphasis on the importance of writing for the owner.
Rather close is Maison Vinck on Rue Washington. This house was built in 1906 for a Brussels senator and lawyer. This house was forgotten about, but has been restored through the years. The key focus of the façade is the balcony made of stone and intricate ironwork.
The next house to visit is the Maison Tassel. Like many of his other works the balcony is the focal point of the exterior. The design gives the illusion of the balcony on the fourth floor extending down to the third and second levels. The staircase inside is of whimsical design and lures you up the stairs.
Located on one of the main streets of Brussels is Hotel Solvay on Avenue Louise. Armand Solvay commissioned his house in 1894. He gave Horta complete creative freedom and unlimited funding. This enabled Horta to build a he pleased without any restrictions to his art. The design allows light through, yet it is softened by the arrangement of furniture and the colors.
Further down Avenue Lousie is Hotel Max Hallet. While the outside is relatively normal, the inside shows the true Art Nouveau style. The iron works bend and flow throw the house, the wall paintings of flowers and vines meander through the house. Horta noted that the staircase itself was the center of the house, where he wanted to draw attention.
Many of Horta's pieces are UNESCO World Heritage pieces. They have gone through precise restorations and have only the best Art Nouveau specialists keeping up the presences of these homes. They are all true testaments to the Art Nouveau and are art treasure worth spending time looking for.
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