Alphonse Mucha: The Whimsical Secession
Výstava plakátů Alfonse Muchy, která patří světoznámému tenistovi Ivanu Lendlovi, se po pouhých sedmdesáti dnech stala nejnavštěvovanější uměleckou výstavou v historii České republiky. 18. června dveřmi Obecního domu v Praze prošel stý tisící návštěvník, jak pořadatelé také na svých stránkách píší. Předpokládám, že během prázdnin bude počet zvědavců ještě více stoupat.
The exhibition of Alphonse Mucha’s posters which belong to the famous tenist Ivan Lendl became the most visited art exhibition in the history of the Czech Republic and it happened after only seventy days since it was opened. On June 18 the 100,000th visitor passed through the doors of Obecní dům (Municipal House) in Prague, as the organizers reported. I suppose the attendance will rise even more during summer holiday.
|Alfons Mucha: Umění: Tanec, 1898. Zdroj: gelaskins.com|
Being a fan of Mucha’s breakthrough posters, theatrical Slav Epic, almost unknown photographs or hating him as much as you can, we all can’t avoid one fact – Alphonse Mucha gained during his lifetime (but mostly after his death) great fame and the attendance of this exhibition only confirms it. Those who are interested can please themselves with Mucha’s Art Nouveau until July 31.
|Alfons Mucha: Autoportrét, 1899. Zdroj: poulwebb.blogspot.com|
To get into the mood before some of you may go into the “lion’s den” I prepared an article where we can focus on the most famous fragment of Mucha’s work. Be sure to fasten your seat belts because we’re heading straight into the sweet pastels, tons of flowers and billowing draperies!
Alphonse Mucha – one of the most famous Czech painters who is also considered to be one of the most important secession painters on the contrary didn’t consider himself being that. In fact, he hated the term. However, when we go through his poster production, unfortunately for Mr. Mucha it’s impossible to avoid that “s” word. There probably isn’t “purer” secessionist.
|Alfons Mucha: Gismonda, 1894. Source: commons.wikimedia.org|
Pro zvětšení klikněte na obrázek.
|Médee, 1898. MoMA NY. Zdroj:
|Lorenzaccio, 1896. Soukromá sbírka.
|La Samaritaine, 1897. Zdroj:
In 1897, Mucha exhibited for the first time not only in Paris, but also in Prague. In both places he presented over hundred of his litographies. During his life, the artist created a great amount of such works, ordering a lot of them into series of flowers, arts or seasons of the year. There was something like collector-rush about his posters, later (thank to the fame) allowing him to live and work for several years in the USA.
|Ovoce a květina, 1897. Source: poulwebb.blogspot.com
Fruit and Flower, 1897.
|Čtyři květiny (Karafiát, lilie, kosatec, růže), 1898. Source: helloveryvanilla.blogspot.com
Four flowers: Carnation, Lily, Iris, Rose, 1898.
|Denní doby (Ranní probuzení, Denní jas, Večerní rozjímání, Noční odpočinek), 1899.
The Times of the Day: Morning Awakening, Brightness of Day, Evening Contemplation, Night’s Rest, 1899.
|Čtyři roční období, 1900.
The Seasons of the Year, 1900. Source: helloveryvanilla.blogspot.com
|Čtyři drahokamy (Rubín, ametyst, smaragd, topaz), 1900.
Four Precious Stones: Ruby, Amethyst, Emerald, Topas, 1900. Source: helloveryvanilla.blogspot.com
Mucha devoted himself not only to the poster production, but also to other kinds of art. He designed jewellery, calendars, coloured windows, bank notes or postage stamp. He valued his noncommercial pieces the most, considering the Slav Epic as his masterpiece. “Mucha always tried to be inspired by the nature and his feelings, claiming that the art only exists to provide us spiritual experience,” says Martina Glenn from Artmuseum.
It was his commercial production though which brought him the prestige.
|Flirt – Biscuits Lefévre-Utile, 1899. Source: leninimports.com|
|Bières de la Meuse, 1897. Source: commons.wikimedia.org|
|Monaco – Monte Carlo, 1897. Source: backtoclassics.com|
|Moët&Chandon – Dry Impérial, 1899.
Not only his paintings deserve attention, his books are interesting, too. He wrote and illustrated ‘Documents Décoratifs’, published in 1902 and ‘Figures Décoratives’ in 1905.
The first named was a kind of handbook showing how to create secession ornaments while in the second one Mucha explained his principles of depicting human figures.
|Documents Décoratifs, str. 11, 1902. Source: blog.paperblanks.com|
|Figures Décoratives, 1905. Source: artbrutist.tumblr.com|
|Byzantské hlavy, 1897. Zdroj: poulwebb.blogspot.com|
Mucha almost didn’t depict any topic that would be purely negative – his women could by charming, seductive, but they never (or almost never) provoke negative (sad, melancholic) feelings. However, only happy subjects and nice image would’t be sufficient to cause such a success. Mucha was really skilled and talented artist and craftsman in one – you can notice his skills on every painting. He could inspire nice dreaminess and liveliness to all of his figures.
|Champagne Prinet Publisher, 1897. Zdroj: wikipaintings.org|
The composition isn’t that much difficult in Mucha’s case – it’s always placing the dominant element in the middle of picture, being that mostly a woman figure, which he decorated with a circle filled with ornamental patterns, creating kind of a halo. Depending on woman’s pose he adjusted additional elements. His pictures are never minimalistic – Mucha loved rich decoration, sophisticated curves and tons of blooming flowers.
|Zodiaque “La Plume”, 1896. Zdroj: poulwebb.blogspot.com|
Long and eurhythmic curves create an impression of fluency. We can observe it in draperies – draped, airy fabrics and curling hair of girls.
|Umění: Poezie, 1898. Zdroj: commons.wikimedia.org|
Mucha took symbolistic motifs and rid them of their gloominess and heaviness. Instead of destructive femmes fatales he often depicted smiling young women. If he ever “slipped” to the darkness, he rather used it as a spice than a building stone. The base is decoration, an effort to express the esential beauty and to connect himself with the nature.
|Job, 1896. Zdroj: wikipaintings.org|
Sources (except of interpretation of Mucha’s success)
- Martina Glenn: Artmuseum – Alfons Mucha
- Andrew Graham Dixon: Umění – Symbolismus a secese (str. 384)
- Poul Webb Art Blog: Alphonse Mucha (Part 1 – 12)
- Obecní dům: Muchovy plakáty slaví rekordní jubileum (použito pro úvod)
Pokud vás ještě ze vší té sladkosti a roztomilosti nebolí zuby (mě už ano), mám pro vás ještě na závěr jednu maličkost – Google Doodle pro 150. výročí narození Alfonse Muchy. Zbožňuju jejich malůvky k různým příležitostem!
And the last detail – Google Doodle, celebrating 150th anniversary of Mucha’s birth. I love their ideas of making the searching site more interesting!
|Google Doodle pro 150. výročí narození Muchy, 2010. Zdroj: blog.couleurnature.com|