Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Rug Designs by Paul Burck

Illustration: Paul Burck. Rug design, c1899.

The German artist, decorator and designer Paul Burck produced work in a number of areas including fine art, graphics, illustration, wallpaper, jewellery and textiles. He trained as a decorative artist and therefore was well placed to excel in so many different fields. As far as textiles are concerned he was particularly prolific in the weaving area of tapestry and rug design.

At the very end of the nineteenth century Burck produced design work for a variety of small rugs and carpets, five examples of which are shown in this article. The fact that these designs were produced at the height of the Art Nouveau, or in the German case the Jugendstil movement, should allow us to see lots of sinuous and consciously affected motifs that dominate the work. However, these designed pieces are very different to the standard Art Nouveau fair and in some respects are even personalised to the style of Burck or at least that of his immediate contemporary design circle.

Illustration: Paul Burck. Rug design, c1899.

Burck was by nature a graphically inspired artist and his work tended towards the contemporary illustrative style that was becoming an acceptable part of both art and illustration across Europe. This new form had begun to reject both strict realism and the dependency on perspective in order to arrive at what seemed at the time, a much more emotional level of understanding of art and through that, also decoration.

By taking a look at some other interpretations of Burck's work we can better understand the design and pattern work he created for these rug designs. The designer produced a whole range of tapestry designs during the same period as the production of these rug designs, an article concerning Burck's tapestry work can be found here.  The tapestry compositions take the form of a paired down semi-realism which also allowed an incredible amount of clarity and simplicity into the composition.

Illustration: Paul Burck. Rug design, c1899.

It is this simplicity that is especially striking about so much decorative work during this period particularly that produced in Germany. It is the ability of so many of the contemporary designers such as Burck, to be able to simplify, and perhaps more importantly to balance that simplicity with a structure and pattern that is neither monotonous or overly simplistic, that allows these pieces to be seen for the charming and effortless examples of period decoration that they are.

Most, if not all of the examples shown here, give the impression that they are both roughly and sketchily drawn with little in the way of draughtsman-like exactness. This is obviously purposeful and goes very much against the historical traditions of carpet and rug design particularly that found in major European producers like those seen in France and to a certain extent Britain, which had fairly long traditions in classically proportioned carpet and rug decoration and pattern work.

Illustration: Paul Burck. Rug design, c1899.

The simple, charming and effortless examples produced by Burck at the very end of the nineteenth century show us how far the perception of the decorative arts of that particular century had come. From the exacting parameters of the traditions of European Renaissance Classicism at its very beginning, through to the simplified, some would even say naive, interpretation of the natural world, through love of pattern and colour for its own sake, at its very end.

That Burck and others felt confident enough at the end of the nineteenth century to formulate a new path for traditional rug design work, shows much about the overall optimistic nature of decoration and pattern during this period and the belief that change could be a positive attribute. The amount of energy and dynamism that that optimism engendered in so many traditional areas of the decorative arts during this period, highlights it as one of the most energetic and spirited eras of European decorative arts.

Illustration: Paul Burck. Rug design, c1899.

Reference links:
Modern Style: Jugendstil/Art Nouveau 1899-1905
Art nouveau in Munich: Masters of Jugendstil from the Stadtmuseum, Munich, and other public and private collections
Jugendstil Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau: Utopia: Reconciling the Irreconcilable (Taschen's 25th Anniversary Special Editions Series)
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau Designs (Design Source Books)
Art Nouveau (Dover Pictura)
Art Nouveau Floral Patterns and Stencil Designs in Full Color (Dover Pictorial Archive Series)
Art Nouveau Flowers (Design Source Books)

No comments:

Post a Comment