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Rise of the Modern City

Discover the ways in which artists, photographers, and architects changed the landscape of modern cities.

Entrance Gate to Paris Subway (Métropolitain) Station, Paris, France

Hector Guimard
(French, 1867–1942)

1905. Painted cast iron, glazed lava, and glass, 13' 11" x 17' 10" x 32" (424.2 x 543.6 x 81.3 cm) Each vertical stanchion: 1040 lbs. Horizontal component: 460 lbs. Glazed lava sign: 100 lbs.

The Parisian architect and designer Hector Guimard was commissioned to make the Entrance Gate to Paris Subway (Métropolitain) Station not only to mark an entry to the new Paris Métro, but also to help make this new mode of transportation appealing to Parisians. Entrance Gate to Paris Subway is designed in the style of Art Nouveau, an international style of decoration and architecture in the 1880s and 1890s that drew inspiration from nature and natural forms. The gate’s curvilinear lines and patterns were inspired by vines and flowers. Symmetrical, floral lights frame the Metro sign, both lighting the entrance and advertising the Métro. This blend of design, architecture, and advertisement was important to modern ideas.

A distinctive or characteristic manner of expression.

A series of events, objects, or compositional elements that repeat in a predictable manner.

Modern can mean related to current times, but it can also indicate a relationship to a particular set of ideas that, at the time of their development, were new or even experimental.

A long mark or stroke.

The shape or structure of an object.

To request, or the request for, the production of a work of art.

Decorative style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that flourished principally in Europe and the U.S. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms.

Did You Know?
Guimard used an innovative modular system to create 141 gates throughout Paris. At first, Parisians were hesitant in their response to Guimard’s gates. The Art Nouveau aesthetic was unfamiliar to the masses, yet they soon grew to appreciate this new style previously known only by the wealthy. That said, only a few publicly installed gates remain in Paris today, while others can be found in Montreal, Canada.


AUDIO: Find out innovative strategies Hector Guimard used to construct Entrance Gate to Paris Subway.

Flickr photos of Guimard’s Métro gates from around the world.

Have you seen a Métro gate? Add it to the slideshow by uploading to Flickr with the tag “Guimard Metro.”