Art: Master of the Tendrilous

In its brief heyday around the turn of the century, the tendrilous international style of art nouveau swept over Europe, dominating the design of everything from the Paris Metro stations to ordinary knives and forks. The inevitable reaction against it was particularly violent, and the whole movement was dismissed as a rather ludicrous, if temporary, aberration. Artists like Alphonse Mucha, if remembered at all, seemed as dated as gaslight and their work as decadent as Oscar Wilde's sun flower. But lately art nouveau has been getting a new look. Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art had a big show of it three...

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