Hector Guimard and Le Style Métro
In the post about le Métro, Louis la Vache wrote that Hector Guimard was the designer of the beloved glass and cast-iron Art Nouveau Métro stations that became Guimard's "calling card." These stations are not only Guimard's "calling card," they are also the subject of many Paris cartes postale, post cards. Guimard's Art Nouveau stations came to be known as le Style Métro, making him the major representative of Art Nouveau in France.
The term Art Nouveau comes from an art gallery in Paris called Maison de l'Art Nouveau "House of New Art," which was run by French dealer Siegfried Bing. In his gallery, Bing displayed not only paintings and sculpture but also ceramics, furniture, metalwork, and Japanese art. Sections of the gallery were devoted to model rooms that artists and architects designed in the art nouveau style.
Art nouveau embraced all forms of art and design: architecture, furniture, glassware, graphic design, jewelry, painting, pottery, metalwork, and textiles. This was a sharp contrast to the traditional separation of art into the distinct categories of fine art (painting and sculpture) and applied arts (ceramics, furniture, and other practical objects).
Guimard was born on le 10 mars 1867 in Lyon. He studied for three years at the École des Arts Décoratifs and for four years at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, after which he established his own practice.
The radical ideas expounded by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc concerning the expressive and natural use of materials like iron and an 1895 visit to Victor Horta's Hôtel Tassel in Bruxelles, with its flexed masonry and sinuous lines, inspired Guimard.
Much of his practice came from orders for homes in the (then and now) wealthy XVI ème arrondissement. His Castel Béranger (1894-1898) and building for Ceramique Coilliot in Lille did much to establish his reputation as the leading proponent of the Art Nouveau style in France. Not only did he design the exteriors of his buildings, he also designed the interiors and all the interior details, including the furniture. After completing the Castel Béranger for Mme. Fournier, Guimard used part of the ground floor as his studio.
In 1899 the company building le Métro held a competition to see who would design the kiosks that would cover each entrance to the underground. The president of the administrative counsel summoned Guimard as no one else had presented a design representing the Art Nouveau. Guimard was awarded the design contract. His new style was a success and gave birth to le Style Métro .
Aside from his very public designs for le Métro, Guimard's practice was largely limited to private houses and apartment buildings for the haute bourgeoisie. In 1909 he married the American paintress Adeline Oppenheim and they lived in the home he designed and built, l' hôtel Guimard.
Hôtel Mezzara was built in 1910 for the industrial designer and friend of Hector Guimard, Paul Mezzara. Although the Art Nouveau was actually over by then, the Mezzara house was still built in that style. Guimard remained faithful to Art Nouveau throughout his career.
In 1938, sensing the approach of another war with Germany, Guimard and his wife emigrated to New York City. He died there on le 20 mai 1942.
The architectural and decorative works of Hector Guimard are characterized by fluid, unusual lines, vibrant curves inspired by nature, essential shapes underlined by light and contrast of the different materials used, such as wood, iron and stone. They are the most representative of the organic and floral Art Nouveau Style in France.
Art Nouveau: An Architectural Indulgence