Review by Solandia
Art Nouveau ('New Art') was a style of architecture and decoration, as well as an art movement, developed in Europe and the USA in the late nineteenth century. The style was characterised by ornate stylised patterns of leaves, flowers and vines. Art Nouveau was not limited to paintings - it was aimed at removing the barriers between 'major' and 'minor' arts, unifying art, and centring it around people, and influenced graphics, architecture, furniture and even jewellery design.
The Tarot Art Nouveau was influenced and inspired by the Art Nouveau movement, and its coloured ink drawings on the cards are elegant, flowery and ornate. Every scene is adorned and decorated with floral wreathes and symmetrical, natural arrangements. People are the focus of the deck and are shown in close-up on almost every card. The colours are soft and spring-like: greens, blues, pale pinks, and yellows, inset into a white border. The main title, in Italian, is purple; other language titles are pink.
It is a wonderfully attractive and pretty deck, if a tiny bit on the bland side. The people, mostly women, in the deck are uniformly young and attractive. The occasional men are muscular and virile, the women pale, bare-breasted, longhaired and languid. Everyone is so gorgeous, and gorgeously drawn, that there is very little contrast between the different cards. The art relies on nuance for understanding and conveys meaning with the expression and position of the human figure and face, rather than with the traditional set of tarot symbols.
The major arcana meanings are close to the usual archetypes, but fewer than usual and are little more than divinatory keywords. ("XVIII - the Moon. This card represents visions, imagination travel, melancholy and attraction for the unknown. XXI - the World. This card represents perfection, full result, achievement of any enterprise and reward.")
However, the minor arcana are not always linked with familiar Rider-Waite style meanings and symbology and the artist's intending meaning is not always apparent. For example, the leaflet packaged with the cards lists the 7 of Pentacles as: 'The scornful look of this maid represents arrogance and unscrupulousness.' The 6 of Wands, normally a card of success or victory is described as: 'Great danger often hide[s] behind false appearance. This card represents a dangerous and unfair opponent.' So although only a few words, they are helpful for providing clues to the card's meaning, at least initially.
This is not the same deck as the Art Nouveau Tarot by Matt Myers. While drawing on the same artistic period for inspiration, the Tarot Art Nouveau by Antonella Castelli has an Italian influence, where the style was known as Liberty, and is less representative of stained glass design.
While not a deep or philosophical tarot deck, the Tarot Art Nouveau is a tarot deck that works well for straightforward fortune telling, and a work of art worthy of addition to any tarot collection.