The utopian visions of other worlds that make up the backdrops in Hollywood’s multimillion dollar feature film industry may seem futuristic or magical to moviegoers, but any time traveler worth his salt could tell you that these landscapes have more in common with Earth’s recent past than the far future.

The designs and decorations of a late 19th century art movement called Art Nouveau have influenced a whole lineage of Fantasy film making, and artifacts that would be right at home in the parlors of Frodo Baggins or Ming the Merciless will be on display courtesy of Century Guild at the 2004 San Diego Comicon.

Artists at the turn of the last century reacted against the Industrial Revolution by taking their design inspirations from dreams and nature and blending these elements into their work in a completely original and mystical way, leaving behind the classical traditions of the Victorian Era and creating the first completely original design movement in centuries.

In the decades to come, writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs would look directly to Art Nouveau when describing the palaces of Mars, and by the 1930s the machine age of Art Deco style had rendered the furniture of the Art Nouveau era so unfashionable that it was an easy and inexpensive choice to decorate the palaces of the planet Mongo for the Flash Gordon serials.

It’s no wonder, then, that when today’s set designers envision fantastic things beyond normal imagination they also look to Art Nouveau for inspiration: we see bronze numerals by Hector Guimard, designer of the French Metropolitain stations, marking the chambers of the intelligent dinosaurs in Dinotopia; Art Nouveau lighting by Louis Comfort Tiffany decorates a palace in The Fifth Element; and Peter Behrens-inspired statuary from the Darmstadt art colony of 1901 makes up most of the Teutonic design of The Chronicles of Riddick. H.R. Giger’s Oscar-nominated creature design from the movie Alien would feel right at place in Holland circa 1900, and the subtle modernizations that turned Celtic stylings into something suitable for Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy follow a path well mapped by the British designer Archibald Knox for England’s Liberty and Co.

A magical box guarded by watchful gnomes in which a young Harry Potter could safely keep his wand, iridescent monolithic vases that could have been excavated from Atlantis, and Frodo-worthy statues of sinuous, fire-breathing dragons are among the Art Nouveau artifacts that will be on display and available for sale courtesy of Century Guild at the San Diego Comicon, booth 3445 in the San Diego Convention center, July 22-25 2004.

For more information or images please contact Thomas Negovan at 312.720.7201 or

Century Guild