Alphonse Mucha & Art Nouveau

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  • Topic: Art Nouveau, Art, Poster
  • Pages : 4 (1074 words )
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  • Published : November 8, 2008
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Alphonse Mucha & Art Nouveau

New York: Dateline 1939: Alphonse Mucha, the highly regarded Art Nouveau artist passed away today, July 14, 1939, shortly after being questioned by the Gestapo. Since the late Victorian period, Mucha’s art, in particular, his posters that hang in many homes and businesses, has enriched the world with its beauty.

Mucha was born in 1860 in southern Moravia, which at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His rural roots resulted in a deep folk art influence and his home environment imbued him with an intense spirituality that marked his character and influenced his art (Johnston 2004). Mucha once declared, “art existed only to communicate a spiritual message, and nothing more”(Mucha 2008). In his work, Mucha’s spirituality is revealed in his frequent inclusion of natural elements, and in the exuberance and joy his images so frequently evoke. While cool sophistication is often associated with modernity and urban settings, Mucha’s use of natural elements from country life and his depictions of girls and women suggest overt joy inspired by nature.

Mucha worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, then in 1879 moved to Vienna to work for a leading Viennese theatrical design company. In 1887, he moved to Paris and continued his studies at the Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi while also producing magazine and advertising illustrations. In the early 1980s, Mucha’s life as a struggling artist in Paris changed drastically when he happened upon a print shop at the moment the owner was receiving a commission to produce a poster advertising a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, a popular actress of the era. Grasping the opportunity, Mucha designed and produced the poster “Gismonda,” which was an immediate success. The poster’s unique shape, subtle coloring and exquisite workmanship connected with an entirely unique and new “Byzantine richness” (Henderson 10). Spurning bright colors and the square like shape of the more...
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