Artistic America, Tiffany Glass, and Art Nouveau
282 pp., 9 x 11 in,
- Published: April 15, 1970
- Published: November 6, 1980
This book is a collection of published writings of Samuel Bing, a Parisian art dealer whose Salon de l'Art Nouveau not only gave the name but was pivotal to the movement that generated an international style. The essays include Artistic America (La Culture Artistique en Amerique, translated for the first time by Benita Eisler), an article on "Louis C. Tiffany's Coloured Glass Work," and two articles on "L'Art Nouveau." A devoted japoniste, Bing sought to bring about a renaissance in interior design and the decorative arts. He championed young craftsmen and artist-decorators and encouraged them to break away from prescribed formulas. Bing's patronage, his articles on Art Nouveau, and the displays of furniture, tapestry, and glass (he was the sole distributor of Tiffany glass in Europe) gave impetus to and provided direction for the cultural tendencies of his time. Robert Koch, an authority on Tiffany glass and Louis C. Tiffany's biographer, has compiled over one hundred superb illustrations, including some previously unpublished pictures of the 1900 Tiffany exhibit in Paris.
Artistic America, the major portion of this book, was originally published as a report to the French government of a trip Samuel Bing made to America in the early 1890s. His fresh and forthright observations on American painting, sculpture, architecture, and industrial arts make this a singular piece.
The translation preserves Bing's florid Belle Epoque style-the pomposities and eccentricities of a European art merchant who disdains American eclecticism and bad taste, yet who is most enthusiastic about interiors and the industrial arts in which he discerns American genius everywhere—in the boldness of conception and use of the most up-to-date machinery to produce practical household objects of silver, glass, wrought iron, and ceramics" The collective spirit of the New World workshops strikes him as a reflection of American democracy.
...the book's revival on good paper withillustrations brings to light some keenly per-ceptive observations of the modernism of hisday. He showed an enlightened appreciation ofthe architecture of Henry H. Richardson andLouis Sullivan at a time when neoclassicismwas still firmly in the saddle, and he admired.the glass designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany....His evaluations of the arts of 75 years agoremain remarkably valid in the perspective ofwhat has happened since, and his notes amountto an introduction to modern American art.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This long overdue translation... has resulted in a more elaborate book than the rare, original (1895) edition, for it has illustrationsof many of the objects Bing describes. It alsoincludes three of Bing's later articles on ArtNouveau. Essential for all programs in American studies and in art history.
The MIT Press has performed a very great service to students andresearchers by bringing these original documents by one of the great sponsors of the artnouveau back into print. Dr. Robert Koch, whohas written the illuminating introduction, hasperformed an equally great service by selectingthe many, and very pertinent, illustrations.
The Virginia Quarterly Review