artnou.jpg (21557 bytes)Tarot Art Nouveau - Review by Michele Jackson

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This deck, newly published by Lo Scarabeo, should not be confused with the Art Nouveau Tarot published by US Games. The cards measure 4 3/4" X 2 5/8". They appear to be ink drawing colored with ink or watercolors. Circles are an integral part of each image, as are vines and flowers. The art is very good with a lot of detail and wonderful colors. I am told that the artist may have been influenced by the work of Alphonse Mucha, and I tend to agree (thanks J). The suits are Chalices, Pentacles, Wands and Swords. The Major Arcana retain their original names except for The Lovers and The Star, which have been renamed "The Lover" and "The Stars." Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. In the Minors the card number and name are in the top border in English, French, Spanish and German. The suit name is in the bottom border in Italian. In the Majors the card name and number are arranged the same way - Italian in the bottom border and the other languages in the top border. The Minor Arcana Two through Ten also have the suit symbol in the requisite number in a band in the lower right side of each card. The backs are purple and depict a reversible image of The Fool.

I do have one small "ouch." There is a disproportionate number of women in this deck. I think that was done in order to stay true to the art style rather than to make some type of feminist statement. Almost all of the Minor Arcana are peopled with women and even the Kings have a woman in the scene with the King. The images occasionally resemble scenes from the Waite deck, but by and large they are original. The person (usually a woman with voluminous hair) takes up the majority of each scene. Much of the background art is merely decorative. The artist tries to convey the meaning of the card based on the person's facial features and pose. She is more successful in some cases than others and I think that one will have to keep the book handy and spend some time studying to read with this deck.

The little booklet is a fold out affair that deck begins by discussing the "Art Nouveau" style, called "Liberty Style" in Italy. A nine card spread is described, followed by short meanings for the Major Arcana. No reversed meanings are given. The meanings are fairly traditional. The Minor Arcana meanings begin by describing the characteristics of the suit, followed by the card meanings. The meanings sometimes describe the card image and how it portrays the meaning.  Other times they just give a meaning. Some of the meanings are Waite-like, but others are not.

I recommend this deck for collectors and for those who are looking for something different. The deck is a treat for the eye.

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Tarot Art Nouveau
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Distributed by Llewellyn Publishing

Images Copyright 1998 Lo Scarabeo

Page Copyright 2000 by Diane Wilkes