The initiator and leading supporter of Art nouveau in Belgium, Victor Horta was born on 6 January 1861 in Ghent, Belgium. Horta studied design, architecture, textile and drawing at the Fine Arts Academy in Gent.
Horta started his practice in 1885 and gathered so much attention with his wonderful series of houses with smart designs and unique features. His first independent building was Hôtel Tassel in Brussels (1892–93). It was counted among the first exemplary works of Art Nouveau at continental level and this phase proved to be the turning point of his career. The character of this building that caught the attention the most was its octagonal hall with a staircase leading to various levels. The most prominent feature of Art Nouveau style, curved line, was used on the façade as well in the interior of the hotel. Horta introduced many other buildings governed by the same style in Belgium and was regarded as the first architect to launch the structure in Belgium with large iron and glass façade. He used the iron roof beams for both decorative and structural purposes.
Horta is revered as the greatest architect of 19th century. His revolutionary artistic taste granted Belgium with some iconic modern art. He used compositional and technological elements together and produced some exuberant work. While designing he always focused the most on lines and curves.
He succeeded in introducing this new type of architecture called Belgium Art Nouveau Architecture. It comprised of organic forms and laid the foundation for modern art and design in nineteenth century. These organic forms comprising of plant like shapes with sensuous double layered features became so popular that they started covering each and every aspect of buildings including external covers and details of interior. All the details were considered incomplete without the tinge of these lines and curves. From glass windows and door handles to lamps, wooden furniture and even door bells, these elements were everywhere. Not just the works of 19th century but many decorative features and jewelry designs of current times also get inspiration from Art Nouveau style.
With the start of 20th century architecture Horta changed his course to much simpler style. His designs became less vibrant and animated and he initiated using Greek and Roman motifs along with marble columns in his work. With the passage of time he gradually moved away from Art Nouveau style and eventually adapted Neo-Classical traditional language and started focusing more on straight lines.
Major works done by Victor Horta are:
– Hôtel Tassel, Belgium (1893)
– Maison Frison, Brussels (1894)
– Hôtel Solvay, Brussels (1895-1900)
– Hôtel Van Eetvelde, Brussels (1898)
– Maison Horta, Brussels (1898)
– Waucquez Department Store, Brussels (1903)
– Wolfers Building, Rue d’Aremberg 11-13, Brussels (1909)
– Palais des Beaux-Arts, Rue Royale 10, Brussels (1920)
In spite of the fact that Horta received a lot of appreciation throughout his career, his reputation faced a lot of criticism once Art Nouveau set on the way of declination. The excessive ornamentation and decoration of his buildings faced disapproval from public which made exemplary spatial qualities of his buildings suffer as well. Victor Horta died on September 8, 1947 in Brussels, Belgium.