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Arwas, Victor

Arwas, Victor

PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Gretha.

ADDRESSES: Office—Victor Arwas Gallery, Editions Graphiques Ltd., 3 Clifford St., London W1S 2LF, England; fax: 0207-437-1859. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Victor Arwas Gallery, Editions Graphiques Ltd., London, England, owner; curator of exhibits; lecturer.

WRITINGS:

Felicien Rops, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1972.

Art Deco Sculpture: Chryselephantine Statuettes of the Twenties and Thirties, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1975.

Art Deco, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1976, revised edition, H.N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1992.

Glass: Art Nouveau to Art Deco, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1977, revised edition, H.N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1987.

Belle Epoque Posters & Graphics, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1978.

Berthon & Grasset, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1978.

The Liberty Style: All-Color Paperback, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1979.

Alastair, Illustrator of Decadence, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1979.

Tiffany, London Academy (London, England), 1979.

(Author of introduction) Lalique: The Glass of René Lalique, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1980.

Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor) The Great Russian Utopia, Academy Editions (London, England), 1993.

(With Susan Newell) The Art of Glass: Art Nouveau to Art Deco (exhibition catalog), Andreas Papadakis (Windsor, Berkshire, England), 1996.

(Editor, with others) Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau (exhibition catalog), Art Services International (Alexandria, VA), 1998.

Art Nouveau: From Mackintosh to Liberty: The Birth of a Style, Andreas Papadakis (London, England), 2000.

Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic, Andreas Papadakis (London, England), 2002.

Contributor of essay to Graham Ovenden, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1987.

SIDELIGHTS: London gallery owner Victor Arwas is an expert in the field of decorative arts who specializes in the art nouveau and art deco movements. He has published more than a dozen books on these subjects, ranging from studies of individual artists to encyclopedic reference works. Perhaps his most important work is Art Deco, which has been revised and expanded twice since its initial publication in 1976. Among his other widely reviewed works are Glass: Art Nouveau to Art Deco and Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau.

In Berthon & Grasset Arwas reviews the work of the student and teacher who were major influences in the creation of art nouveau's stylized female figure. Eugène Grasset and Paul Berthon are considered second in importance only to Alphonse Mucha in this development. A Choice contributor called the book "the first recent study" on the subject, in which "the basically commercial nature of the style is fully revealed."

Arwas is editor of Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau, which collects essays that seek to expand the artist's reputation beyond the female portraits for which he is best remembered. Known for posters of his actress friend Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha also created a "Slav Epic" of twenty paintings and showed other historical and social interests. Library Journal contributor Joseph C. Hewgley advised that among previous works about Mucha, "none have been as exhaustive as this illustrated group of essays." In the French Review, Adelia V. Williams commented that "the breadth of the essays and sheer volume of the illustrations … amply show Alphonse Mucha to be far more than a poster designer and decorator."

In Glass, his biographical dictionary of some fifty designers and makers, Arwas provides an important reference work containing photographed examples of privately owned and museum pieces. The first edition was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement by Geoffrey Beard, who called it "a major contribution about the most fascinating period of innovative glassmaking." A Choice reviewer called the book "a very good reference for the art historian, collector, and artist." A revised edition added seventy-five percent more illustrations, expanded and updated essays, copies of artists's markings, information on fakes, and a glossary. New York Times Book Review writer Patricia Leigh Brown called it "a breathtaking ode to man's creativity."

Art Deco is a vast reference work that is divided into chapters that focus on ceramics, sculpture, glass, furniture, jewelry, enamel and lacquer, bookbinding, and graphic arts. It covers the movement's most famous artists, such as Rene Lalique, Paul Iribe, Erte, and Louis Icart, as well as more experimental figures. Art deco was effectively introduced at the 1925 Paris Exhibition, and Arwas shows the movement to be dominated by French artists. However, he also discusses how the style influenced others in the United States and Europe. The first edition included some 400 illustrations, and the second added 140 color plates. Both editions were warmly welcomed by reviewers. A Publishers Weekly critic called the first edition "a knockout, a book that adds significantly to our knowledge of Art Deco." Donna Seaman stated in Booklist that the first edition "has been 'the key' volume on the subject" and that the new edition is "an invaluable treasury." A second reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that the book is "arguably the most lavish and comprehensive monograph" on art deco.

Among Arwas's more recent works, Art Nouveau: From Mackintosh to Liberty: The Birth of a Style and Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic. The first book is tightly focused on Charles Rennie Mackintosh's contributions to the art nouveau movement. Mackintosh was part of the "Glasgow School" and owner of famous textile design firm Liberty of London. Arwas published this book not long after he served as the curator of a show on Mackintosh at the Metropolitan Teien Museum in Tokyo, Japan. In a review for Style 1900, Alexis Greentree called Art Nouveau: From Mackintosh to Liberty an "extremely comprehensive" and "enjoyable and compelling." Reviewing Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic, a Publishers Weekly critic described the work as "a judicious and leisurely tour through the French Art Nouveau movement." The reviewer called Arwas an appealing writer with a "firm, non-pedantic collector's style."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1992, Donna Seaman, review of Art Deco, p. 226.

Choice, February, 1974, review of Felicien Rops, p. 1854; February, 1979, review of Glass: Art Nouveau to Art Deco, p. 1650; April, 1979, review of Berthon & Grasset, p. 211; February, 1981, review of Art Deco, p. 782.

French Review, April, 2000, Adelia V. Williams, review of Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau, pp. 994-995.

Library Journal, December 15, 1978, Graceanne A. DeCandido, review of Glass, p. 2509; December, 1998, Joseph C. Hewgley, review of Alphonse Mucha, p. 96.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 6, 1992, Lee Wochner, review of Art Deco, p. 13.

New York Times Book Review, April 3, 1988, Patricia Leigh Brown, review of Glass, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, October 24, 1980, review of Art Deco, pp. 40-41; October 19, 1992, review of Art Deco, p. 70; March 15, 1993, review of Art Deco Sculpture: Chryselephantine Statuettes of the Twenties and Thirties, p. 80; December 16, 2002, review of Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic, p. 64.

Style 1900, summer-fall, 2001, Alexis Greentree, review of Art Nouveau: From Mackintosh to Liberty: The Birth of a Style, p. 64.

Times Literary Supplement, July 28, 1978, Geoffrey Beard, review of Glass, p. 870; May 22, Fiona MacCarthy, review of Alphonse Mucha, p. 20.

ONLINE

Victor Arwas Gallery Web site, http://www.victorarwas.com (September 6, 2005).

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