Nestan Tatarashvili

Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and design that pekaed in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century (1880-1914) and is characterised by highly-stylised, flowing, curvilinear designs often incorporating floral and other plant-inspired motifs. The Art Nouveau Preservation Group of Georgia has been led for many years by Nestan Tatarashvili, architect.

Art Nouveau Architecture in Georgia at Risk

Art Nouveau architecture was not properly studied in Soviet times because it was regarded as a phenomenon of "borgois culture" and buildings were therefore neglected and and allowed to fall into disrepair. At the beginning of the 20th century many wonderful Art Nouveau buildings were built in Georgia: houses, schools, workshops, cinemas, theatres, shops, banks, hospitals, not only in the capital Tbilisi, but in other small cities such as Sukhumi, Gagra, Akhali Antoni, Batumi, Poti, Kutaisi, Dusheti, Abastumani and Borjomi. Many interesting Art Nouveau tombs are to be found in the main cemeteries. Internationally, Georgia's contribution to Art Nouveau is virtually unknown.

Whilst Art Nouveau was an international movement, in Georgia the type incorporated local forms. This created its own original synthesis of European style street-front facedes with Georgian wodden balconies decorated with Art Nouveau motifs on the courtyard side. Georgia's Art Nouveau architecture is not a mechanical repetition of European models. Interesting examples of Georgia's unique style of Art Nouveau can also be found in original furnature, mosaics, stained-glass panels, statues, fireplaces and decorated interiors. Many of these fine buildings are today in a bad state of repair and need urgent specialist intervention. With the changing economic climate, Art Nouveau buildings are being gutted and refurbished without proper attention to style. Unfortunately, state financing focuses almost entirely on the ancient architecture of Georgia.

The main factors threatening the physical condition of Art Nouveau buildings are: inappropriate modern intervention; lack of maintenance; lack of managerial skills in architectural heritage preservation; the legislative vacuum in the field of cultural heritage preservation; and overall lack of knowledge of Art Nouveau's cultural value in the world.