Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wallpaper Design by Hans Christiansen

Illustration: Hans Christiensen. Wallpaper design, c1901.

The German artist and designer Hans Christiansen produced a while range of textile based design work, most of which derives from the first two decades of the twentieth century, including the disciplines of printed textiles, carpet and rug, tapestry, embroidery and wallpaper design. However, Christiensen was also intimately involved in both fine art and graphics, as well as to a lesser degree in the disciplines of ceramics and glass.

Christiensen was one of the four founders of the Darmstadt Art Colony along with Paul Burck, Patriz Huber, and Rudolf Bosselt. He did, like many others, have a house built within the community but was never a strictly full time resident as he often spent the winter months in particular, in Paris. Although initially involved in the Arts & Crafts element of Germany, Christiensen soon became very much involved in both French Art Nouveau and the Jugendstil, but his work also had a large Japanese feel to it that often ran through most of the disciplines in which he produced design work.

Illustration: Hans Christiensen. Wallpaper design, c1901.

Although Christiensen was more comfortable and certainly more widely known for his fine art and graphic work, it was his wide-scaling decorative art work that really helped to mould some of the styling and ideals of the German Jugendstil movement. The examples of wallpaper design shown here were produced at the very beginning of the twentieth century and were indeed featured in the leading German art and design magazine of the period Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration.

Although the wallpaper design work shown here does very much follow some of the general lines of the French Art Nouveau movement, there is also a leaning towards at least some of the visual elements that made the German Jugendstil a style that while still part of the Art Nouveau scheme, was somewhat different in general outlook being slightly less involved in the extreme styling of the movement.

Illustration: Hans Christiensen. Wallpaper design, c1901.

The Japanese element which is always present within Art Nouveau decoration in general, whether to a lesser of higher degree, seems obviously present in Christiensen's wallpaper pattern work. However, this was not necessarily true of all of his decorative art output which sometimes had a decidedly graphic but Germanic rather than Japanese emphasis. It must be admitted though that Christiensen was a German that had a much closer affiliation to both the French interpretation of Art Nouveau and that of Japanese styling. It could be said that it was some of these elements that Christiensen brought to the Jugendstil, which enabled it to have a much broader appeal and allowed it to expand from its original German format.

From the First World War onwards, like so many fine artists that had turned to the decorative arts, Christiansen returned to his initial discipline and remained a painter for the rest of his life, even though in 1933, like so many other creative people in Germany, the Nazis banned him from publicly displaying his work.

I must apologise for the poor quality of the illustrations. They were the only ones I could obtain that were copyright free, but I thought that it was important for you all to see some of the wallpaper design work produced by Christiensen, rather than none.

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