Rococo, Art Nouveau, and fine art concrete

September 26, 2018

Eighteenth century Rococo furniture and accessories in fuchsia, emerald green, cobalt blue and flashy reds set drawing rooms in motion with pin-cushioned plush and filigree lavishness.  


Scroll-framed mirrors and marble-topped tables added more sumptuousness. French painter François Boucher’s work embodied the frivolity of Rococo with mythological subjects and pastoral landscapes.  


Rogers Fund, 1918 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Room from the Powel House, Philadelphia



Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the early 20th century showed a new simplicity. Art Nouveau’s color was the rainbow sheen of abalone shell and the glow of stained glass. It was elegant, elongated and asymmetrical.


Art Deco embraced chrome and stainless steel and its lines were rectangular, straight, economical. Geometric patterns were prevalent in colors of silver, crystal, white and black. It’s worth mentioning Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka. Influenced by Cubism, Lempicka’s Portrait of the Duchess of La Salle shows both Art Deco’s smoothness and Cubism’s planes.


Color theories are not absolute. The sensation, function, and appreciation of color is variable. History, culture, science, and individual sensory perception all affect how color is used. The best way to learn how to create and apply color is to study worldwide visual culture and Art History.

~Sterling Rathsack, Artist/Educator


Concrete defines the landscape of our cities and towns. Take ideas from this medium so relevant to society and create fine art. To create a concrete slab, build a wood frame/mold. Coat with release agent for easy removal. Pour or spread concrete mix like Quikrete with a trowel inside the frame.


Leave the surface smooth or embed objects like wood, burlap, or stones. Add string and rope as compositional lines. As the slab dries, scratch and gouge for texture, if desired.


Let the slab cure for 24 hours, then remove the mold. Sealing the slab with waterproof coating can open up new ideas for painting on concrete. Let the sealant cure for 30 days, then apply latex paint. Why not also experiment with thin layers of concrete on stretched canvas?


Wear rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask when handling concrete powder. Mix concrete outdoors and as the process goes forward, new fine art ideas will form and solidify along with the concrete itself.


AJ Atwater teaches studio art classes for women of all skill levels. 


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