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Hector Guimard (1867 - 1942) was an architect, who today is the best known representative of the French Art Nouveau style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Guimard's critical reputation has grown since the 1960s, as many art historians have praised his architectural and decorative work, the best of which was achieved during a relatively brief period of fifteen years. prolific creative activity.


Porte du Castel Béranger,  14, rue La Fontaine - Pais 16e 

In 1898 he designed the Castel Béranger, which exhibited a tension between a medieval sense of geometric volume, and the organic "whiplash" lines that Guimard saw in Brussels.


wrought iron

Like many other 19th-century French architects, Guimard attended the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris from 1882 to 1885, where he became familiar with the theories of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. These rationalist ideas form the basis of the Art Nouveau museum. Some say that Guimard devoted himself to this style when he visited the Hotel Tassel in Brussels, designed by Victor Horta, yet very different in style.



In 1884, the school awarded him three bronze medals and two silver medals for his work. In 1885, he received awards in all the competitions of the National School of Decorative Arts, including four bronze medals, five silver and the school's grand prize for architecture.


Castel Béranger,  14, rue La Fontaine - Pais 16e 

The “Le Castel Béranger” building is one of the major masterpieces of French Art Nouveau. The owner of the land, Madame Veuve Fournier, a lover of the unusual, asked Hector Guimard, still young and practically unknown, to build an apartment building there (which would include thirty-six apartments).

The Castel Béranger made Guimard famous and he soon had many commissions. He continued to work in the Art Nouveau style, devoting himself above all to his ideal of harmony and continuity, which led him to also design the interior decoration of his buildings.


Hotel Mezzara   60, rue La Fontaine Paris 16th 

Private mansion built for Paul Mezzara, textile industrialist and creator of lace models. The Hotel preceded by a small hallway forming a courtyard in front of the main façade protected by a highly elaborate gate with floral decoration: brambles and flowers designed by the architect.


Tremois building  11, rue François Millet Paris 16th 

It has been almost thirteen or fourteen years since the Art Nouveau movements have upset academic architecture; ten years after the 1900 exhibition, Guimard with the Trémois building in turn seems outdated by its time. 11, rue François Millet, of a reduced size, escapes the monumental aspect that emerges from the buildings of rue Agar barely a hundred meters apart.

His inimitable stylistic vocabulary suggests plants and organic matter, while remaining abstract. Soft moldings and a sense of movement are found in both stone and wood carvings. Guimard creates two-dimensional abstract motifs that are used for stained glass (Mezzara hotel, 1910), ceramic panels (Coilliot house, 1898), wrought iron (Castel Henriette, 1899), wallpapers (Castel Béranger, 1898 ) or fabrics (Hôtel Guimard, 1909).

sortie metro dauphine.jpg

Metro Porte Dauphine -  Paris 16th

The entrance in the form of a kiosk is located on line 2   of the metro, inaugurated in 1902, access is opposite number 90 avenue Foch. The general appearance of this aedicula (especially its glass roof) earned it the nickname dragonfly.

Despite Guimard's innovations and talent, the press grew weary of him - not so much of his work as of his personality. Many of its entrances to Paris metro stations, including all the large pavilions like that of the Bastille, have been demolished. The only surviving complete and covered enclosures are the original Porte Dauphine and the rebuilt Abbesses and Châtelet, although many fenced entrances remain or have been rebuilt.


Monceau metro entrance - Paris 8th

The curious and inventive Guimard was also a precursor of industrial standardization, insofar as he wished to disseminate the new art on a large scale.

His greatest success in this field - despite some scandals - was his famous entrances to the Paris metro, based on the ornamental structures of Viollet-le-Duc.


​To the tragic actress Agar,  10, rue Agar - Paris 16th

Madame Agar: tragedian, Communarde de coeur

Many of Guimard's buildings were destroyed after his death, but he began to be rediscovered in the 1960s. Today scholars have reconstructed his career and he has been the subject of much research. Yet a hundred years after what Le Corbusier called the "magnificent gesture" of Art Nouveau, most of Guimard's buildings remain inaccessible to the public, and no museum is dedicated to him. However, Guimard's original architectural drawings are kept in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in New York.

Café Bar Chez Antoine

Cafe Bar Chez Antoine -   17, rue Lafontaine - Paris 16th

Guimard's work is itself a victim of the contradictions inherent in the ideals of the Art Nouveau style: his best creations remained unaffordable for the general public, and his attempts to standardize materials, parts and measurements could never keep up with the times. rhythm of its stylistic changes. Fear of war and anti-Semitism from the Nazi Party (his wife was Jewish) forced Guimard into exile in 1938, and he was largely forgotten when he died at the Adams Hotel in New York City on May 20, 1942.

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