"Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau" CLOSED
More than 230 rare works by one of the world’s most famous artists will be on view for the opening exhibition beginning July 14, 2012 at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, in Cedar Rapids, IA. Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau, features paintings, jewelry, sculptures and lithographs, is coming direct from the Mucha Foundation in Prague and London. Not since 1999 has an exhibit of this size and caliber appeared in the United States and it is the first of its type to appear in the Midwest region.
“We have been working with the Mucha Foundation for more than a year to bring this stunning exhibit to the U.S. and we are particularly thrilled that it will be the inaugural exhibition for the opening of this national museum,” said President/CEO Gail Naughton. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the lush beauty of Mucha’s flowing, elegant artwork, which is recognized by people all over the world.”
Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau is divided into six sections and explores Mucha not just as the father of art nouveau, but also Mucha’s Moravian roots, his family, his photography and his devotion to the Slav people.
The featured artist, Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860-1939), is most often remembered for the prominent role he played at the turn of the century in the shaping of art nouveau. He was born in Ivančice, Moravia; worked as a painter and studied art in Austria and Germany, before moving to Paris in 1887.
Art nouveau is French for “new art,” which influenced much of the decorative arts during the mid 1880s to 1910. Not only glassware, jewelry, painting, textiles, and pottery but also graphic work and architecture were transformed by the wave of this modern style. Artists at the time drew their inspiration from both organic and geometric forms to develop a sumptuous yet natural approach united by its distinctive curvilinear elements.
In 1910 Mucha returned to Moravia, where he dedicated the remainder of his life producing the Slav Epic a series of 20 paintings depicting the history of the Slav people.
Visitors to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will be able to enjoy the exhibition through Dec. 31, 2012, after which many of the artworks will travel to Japan.
Samples of the works included are:
Gismonda, 1894, a color lithograph
This is one of Mucha’s most important works. It was his first poster of the actress Sarah Bernhardt and shot him to overnight fame in Paris. It revolutionized poster design with its long narrow shape, muted colors and the near life-size image of the “Divine Sarah.” Parisians paid poster hangers for copies, or simply stole the posters right off the streets. Sarah Bernhardt was so pleased with Mucha’s work that she offered him a five year contract to produce posters as well as stage and costume designs.
La Dame aux Camellias, 1896, color lithograph
Sarah Bernhardt starred in the play by Alexandre Dumas. The English translation is Camille. White camellia flowers dominate the design.
Princess Hyacinth, 1911, color lithograph
The poster advertised a ballet starring Andula Sedláčková, who posed as the model. The ballet tells the story of a blacksmith who dreams his daughter is a princess kidnapped by a sorcerer. Mucha incorporated the tools of the blacksmith, a crown, the instruments of sorcery, and hyacinths in the design.
Moravian Teachers Choir, 1911, color lithograph
The Moravian Teachers Choir performed many types of songs, including folk music by Moravian composer Leoš Janáček. Mucha and Janáček knew each other as boys. The girl in the poster wears a folk costume from Kyjov, Moravia.
Self Portrait, c.1898
Mucha was an avid photographer. He took documentary shots of street life in Munich, Paris and Moscow; portraits of family and friends; landscape studies; and studies of models to inform later paintings. In this photograph, Mucha wears a Russian shirt, an example of his passion for Slavic motifs.
Primrose and Feather, 1899
La Primevere (The Primrose) and La Plume (The Feather) comprise one of Mucha’s best panel sets. The figures are symbolic complete with the artist’s customary halos around their heads and diadems in their hair.