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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Painting of the Month (73) July 2017: Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha was born in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) in 1860. He is most famous as a designer of posters, postcards and advertisements that epitomised the Art Nouveau movement. He also painted fine art pictures in a similar style.
We had this 1897 poster in our dining room when first married many years ago.

Poster art is sometimes seen as something inferior - wrongly, in my view. Mucha created a huge number of advertising posters in a similar style to this one, which are instantly recognisable as his work. Art Nouveau, which is one of my favourite art movements, embodied the perfect meeting of art and design. In the late 1800’s art was everywhere and everywhere you looked it was Nouveau. The English Arts & Crafts movement was a major influence on the style as were the contemporary Japanese artists.

Mucha's Jewish roots and Slav nationalism made him a target of the Gestapo after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and he died of a chest infection in Prague that year.
I am listening to John Williams playing Vals Criollo by Antonio Lauro Click HERE to listen to this beautiful piece of music

14 comments:

Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, I was lucky enough to catch an entire large show devoted to Mucha at the Taipei History Museum a few years ago. The History Museum (while it does possess a fine collection) is not the famous Palace Museum, but has facilities for hosting large shows.
--Jim

Hels said...

I love Mucha's work. It was perfectly suited to his Art Nouveau times and to his home in Paris, and perfect for Sarah Bernhardt's image. Even better, poster art was the way modern art was going to be seen by a wide range of people, people who didn't have enough money to buy original art and may not have had the time or inclination to spend time in galleries.

But who was Jewish in Mucha's family - mum Amalie Mala or dad Andreas Mucha? Or perhaps one or more of the grandparents. Alphonse was indeed arrested by the Gestapo in 1939, but the Germans did not seem to find anything in the artist's history to hold their attention.

David said...

Hi bazza,
Nice poster. I hadn't heard of Mucha before, but the style of painting sort of reminded me of Aubrey Beardsley.
All the Best,
David.

bazza said...

Jim: I have seen very little of his original art but there is plenty available in very popular reproduction; he has a wide appeal. I would really like to see an exhibition like the one you saw in The Taipei History Museum.

bazza said...

Hels: He really is the epitome of Art Nouveau. The age of mechanical reproduction really did bring art to the masses. There is a very useful essay on this topic by Walter Benjamin.
As for Mucha's Jewish background, I couldn't find much but did learn that his mother was very religious and, I think, Catholic. It must have a bit more distant!

bazza said...

David: I also really enjoy the work of Aubrey Beardsley, who was of course, a very typical practitioner of the Art Nouveau style. I am sure you will have seen Mucha's work before even if you didn't know his name!

Joanne said...

I'll often go to shows on poster art. I don't find them inferior at all

bazza said...

Joanne: Good thing too! It deserves more recognition.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I was going to say I didn't know about his art ... but am sure I'd have seen it - as he has such a distinct style. Fascinating artist and the fact he's come back into fashion ... great knowing about him ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hilary: You would recognise his work anywhere now I think! I thought he was more well known so I am happy to have brought his work to your attention.

All Consuming said...

Love his art, and a great deal of that style too. I haven't seen any originals, but in the same vein I have seen some of Gustav Klimt's original paintings and it was fascinating to see the real colours compared to the ones exaggerated and messed about with on so many of the posters and prints you see for sale.

bazza said...

AC: Klimt comes under the Art Nouveau umbrella too and is also very popular for poster reproductions. It's often the case that, when you see an original piece of art that you are already familiar with, that it looks so much more impressive.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - I'm sure I've seen his work as you say ... but I'm very non- artist knowledgeable - that's why I like blogging so much ... I pick up things like here - and then can increase my knowledge ... like Kustodiev - when I saw a work by him at the Royal Academy Russian art exhibition ... I knew who he was - not much more .. but I live and learn. Cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hello Hilary, I'm sure that to continue learning keeps us all young!