The Caucasian jubilee exhibition of agricultural and industrial products of 1901. Masterplan of the site and most of pavilions by architect Alexander Szymkiewicz (1858-1907). Pavilion "Panorama of the black city Baku", Brothers' Nobel Company. Sculptures by Jakob Nikoladze (1876-1951). ©Shalva Amiranashvili State Art Museum

Residential house, 1914. 3a Ia Kargareteli Street, Tbilisi. Architect Micheil Ohanjanov

Building of Tbilisi Mutual Credit Society (Later Republican Office of the State Bank), 1913, 3 Giorgi Leonidze Street, Tbilisi. Architect Micheil Ohanjanov (1870-1916).

First Credit Society Building. 3 Freedom Square, Tbilisi. Built in 1870th by architect Albert Zaltsmann (1833-1897). Reconstruction of second floor interior done in Art Nouveau style in 1903. Architect unknown

First Credit Society Building. 3 Freedom Square, Tbilisi. Built in 1870th by architect Albert Zaltsmann (1833-1897). Reconstruction of second floor interior done in Art Nouveau style in 1903. Architect unknown

Micheil Ohanjanov house, 1910th. 16 Giorgi Mazniashvili Street, Tbilisi. Architect M. Ohanjanov

Residential house, 1910th. 3 David Toradze Street, Tbilisi. Rear facade. Architect unknown

Residential house, 1910th. 21 Shota Rustaveli Av. Tbilisi. Architect unknown

Entrance hall of residential house. 6 St. Abo Tbileli Street, Tbilisi. Architect unkown

Entrance hall of residential house. 6 St. Abo Tbileli Street, Tbilisi. Architect unkown

Residential house, 1910th. 133 David Agmashenebeli Av. Tbilisi. Architect unknown

David Sarajishvili house (Writers' House), 13 Ivane Matchabeli Street. Tbilisi. 1905. Architect Karl Zaar (1849-1924).

David Sarajishvili house (Writers' House), 13 Ivane Matchabeli Street. Tbilisi. 1905. Architect Karl Zaar (1849-1924).

David Sarajishvili house (Writers' House), 13 Ivane Matchabeli Street. Tbilisi. 1905. Architect Karl Zaar (1849-1924). Woodwork details by carpenter Ilia Mamatsashvili

Residential house, 1910th. 18 Leo Kiacheli Street, Tbilisi. Architect unknown

The new style established in Europe by the late 19th century went under various names in various nations: Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Stile Liberty, Secession, Modernisme etc. In Georgia the style was called “Style Modern.”

In 1901, seven years after the world’s first Art Nouveau building – Victor Horta’s Hotel Tassel – opened in Brussels, the same style of architecture made its appearance in Tbilisi. The Nobel brothers’ pavilion was unveiled at the 1901 Caucasus exhibition and decorated with sculptures by the Georgian artist Iakob Nikoladze. Art Nouveau expanded rapidly across all regions of the country. Georgia’s engineers and architects began to make an impact on local design towards the beginning of the 20th century. Art Nouveau Residential houses were designed in Tbilisi by Simon Kldiashvili (1865-1920) at 4 Rome Street in 1902, and Grigol Kurdiani (1873-1957) at 28 Ninoshvili Street in 1904. They stand to this day.

Georgian craftsman enriched international Art Nouveau by adding national and traditional elements. There are wooden balconies hanging on the back elevations of the apartment houses – best sample of the coexistence of European and traditional and interesting feature of the Georgian Art Nouveau. ArtNouveau in Georgia acquired some features rarely found elsewhere. Numerous houses were constructed in different styles, later to have Art Nouveau details and shapes added.

The functional variety of Georgia’s Art Nouveau structures is impressive. In addition to residential houses and banks there was also an Art Nouveau hospital, maternity home, Conservatory of Music, library, carriage depot, pawnshop, canteen, slaughterhouse, greenhouse, as well as various schools and educational institutions, shops, manufacturing plants, theatres and cinemas. An Art Nouveau tobacco processing plant was built along with the country’s first thermoelectric power plant, and magnetic observatory. They all still exist. Some cemeteries also contain excellent Art Nouveau monuments.

So what were the distinguishing features of Art Nouveau that so inspired Georgia’s craftsmen, architects and architecture patrons? First of all Art Nouveau helped Georgia join Europe’s ‘modern’ path and aspirations and enter into a dialogue with European countries on an equal footing, while including its own architectural vernacular.

Tatarashvili N. Art Nouveau in Tbilisi – Guide Book, Map and Routes. 200 pages. Premier Videopress TV. Tbilisi, 2008

The title image: Giorgi Kartvelishvili house, 1901, 4 Rome st. Tbilisi. Architect Simon Kldiashvili (1865-1920).

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