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Beautiful and damned Art Nouveau 1890-1914 At The Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 until 30 July Art Nouveau By Stephen Escritt. Phaidon, 2000. 448pp. £14.95

Back in 1936, Nikolaus Pevsner included - apparently with some misgivings - a chapter on Art Nouveau in his vastly influential Pioneers of the Modern Movement. While conceding the significance of the movement as a protest against the strict historicism and moral certainties of the nineteenth century, Pevsner warned his readers that 'for a revolution, it is suspiciously sophisticated and refined, and ... entirely lacking in a social conscience.' How could people live in a Gaudi apartment, ...

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