Architecture: Return to the Purple

Almost any photograph of a Northern European city street scene taken around 1900 shows how decisively art nouveau (or its German version, Jugendstil) permeated the Mauve Decade. As the first art style since the Industrial Revolution to integrate every phase of design, its florid, free-flowing lines ornamented buildings and posters, park benches and Metro stations, Tiffany glass and Liberty silks. Yet few styles have had a shorter life. It achieved its purplest popularity between 1895 and 1900, was fading fast by 1914. With the advent of the machined precision of the 1920s...

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