The Réseau Art Nouveau Network

Appearing in the late nineteenth century, Art Nouveau spread rapidly in Europe through international exhibitions, travelling artists, letters and journals. The common impulse of many European artists to revolutionize previously used formal vocabulary makes it a decidedly European movement. Each country’s creative centres brought their own flavour to the style by appending local specificities ( Jugendstil in Germany, Liberty Style in Italy, Style Sapin in Switzerland, Modernisme in Spain, Sezessionsstil in Austria) in the field of architecture and decorative arts.


However Art Nouveau has always been strongly criticized and it was not until the latter half of the 20th Century that the style began to be appreciated in its historical context, and efforts made for its preservation. At its 24th general conference in 1987, UNESCO identified the need for European cooperation around Art Nouveau with the creation of an international cooperation project for the study and preservation of the Art Nouveau heritage. After eight years of work by representatives of 16 National Commissions of UNESCO, the activity of this network slowed down. The Brussels-Capital Region has revived this international cooperation by creating, with the support of the Culture 2000 programme of the European Commission, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network, which now gathers around twenty cities.

Since 1999, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network has developed and maintained an active cooperation between many European participants involved in the study and preservation of European and International Art Nouveau heritage, as well as its promotion. The Network hopes to stimulate public interest and assist authorities vis-à-vis heritage aspects that are unknown or at risk. To achieve this objective, the RANN: - studies and disseminates information in order to educate, - participates in the creation and development of documentation centres for the conservation, protection and enhancement of Art Nouveau and organises the sharing of experiences in the field of scientific research for the implementation of sustainable tools (buildings protection, opening of interpretative centres).

Thanks to this scientific collaboration at an international level and to the support of the European Commission for four successive projects, many achievements have emerged: conferences, professional exchanges, traveling exhibitions, scientific and educational publications, the website (information on the Network, Art Nouveau in general, agenda of Art Nouveau events around the world, list of doctoral theses, games for children, etc.). All these activities have allowed and still allow today about a forum for information.

(Photo: Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Familia, 1883 © Réseau Art Nouveau Network, 2000. Serge Brison)