Alphonse Mucha started the art nouveau movement. Art began to take a turn to counter the industrial revolution much like the workers movement of the time in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Mucha’s style was popularized with a poster of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. When art nouveau arived it was initially known as Mucha Style. The style embraced organic lines inspired by nature. At the same time the old Victorian style had become mass produced and cheap. The industrial revolution created a whole new monstrosity of low quality art and furniture. Art nouveau, Art Deco and most specifically the Arts and Crafts movement were revolutions against the cheap Victorian style which was dominated by mass production. High artistry and high quality of workers craftsmanship would come to dominate these styles in contrast to mass production.
At the turn of the century and on into the 20′s and 30′s we saw the workers movement. There was a revolution of the workers brewing against the wealthy capitalist the owner of industry. At the same time not only were the philosophies of the working people rising to liberation from their cheapened status in society, but so was the art and architecture. The working class ethic was strong through both the art world and the common people. Which made Mucha more relevant with the rise or industry. Mucha believed that art should be for all. His art crossed the lines of design and fine art. He was creating works for products from posters to packaging. So now the working class could hold a piece of beauty when they purchased a product or when they were going to see Sarah Bernhardt at the Theater.
Art would mirror the working class movements in ethics, a workers pride in their work. Art would mirror the working class movements in the ability to bring art to the common working class.
His revolutionary status in art and design influences us to this day. Artists and designers are abundant and the line between art and design is often blurred. I spent my life as an artist. Over the last decade I was able to eat and pay the bills because of my ability to use this art in design for commercial purposes. Now here lies the irony. From the working class ethic that stood against mass production of products and the industrialization of society we see that this was hijacked by the capitalist and used to further promote capitalism in our society. Art as revolution against the system has become art to support the system. As long as capitalism exists art will be forced into submission to capitalism.