Victor Horta, "Art nouveau" style pioneer
Victor Horta was a Belgian designer and decorator who was considered the main pioneer of the Art Nouveau architectural style. He made exceptional use of stone, steel and glass, combining intertwined curves and double curves, such as flower stems; the beauty of his work is still admired today.
Born to a shoe-maker, whose qualities he espoused, Victor rebelled at an early age against his mother, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Expelled from several institutions on a number of occasions, he sometimes worked on site with his uncle, learning about architecture.
An internship in Paris with an architect and interior decorator gave him the opportunity to discover new construction styles and materials and revealed his true ambitions. He registered at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where his talent was noticed and he was asked to collaborate on the project to design the plans for the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken.
Having graduated and won a gold medal at the end of his studies, he began to construct houses in Ghent, entered a number of competitions and refined his art. He was also asked to construct several different buildings, including the Maison Autrique and the Hôtel Tassel. There followed commissions for private homes and public buildings, such as the Hôtel Solvay; the Hôtel Van Eetvelde; the Maison du Peuple and other department stores. All these masterpieces were in the Art Nouveau style.
Over time, he tried out other materials, giving his constructions a more Cubist appearance. The Hôpital Brugmann, the Palais des Beaux-Arts and Brussels Central Station were three of his major constructions.
Victor Horta's art is characterised by his respect for certain principles: he builds bright buildings using glass walls with plant motifs; he joins ironwork made of scrolls and arabesques to facades and balconies and also uses marble and different types of wood. Each work is unique and he tirelessly revises his original plans to meet the needs of each commission and achieve perfection.
The wealth and exceptional value of his art have been confirmed by the fact that four of his works have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.