Alphonse Mucha


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Alphonse Maria Mucha(24 July 1860 14 July 1939) was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist. Alfons Maria Mucha was born in the town of Ivančice, Moravia (today's region of Czech Republic). His singing abilities allowed him to continue his education through high school in the Moravian capital of Brno, even though drawing had been his first love since childhood. He worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery, then in 1879 moved to Vienna to work for a leading Viennese theatrical design company, while informally furthering his artistic education. When a fire destroyed his employer's business in 1881 he returned to Moravia, doing freelance decorative and portrait painting. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov hired Mucha to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals, and was impressed enough that he agreed to sponsor Mucha's formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi while also producing magazine and advertising illustrations. Around Christmas 1894, Mucha happened to drop into a print shop where there was a sudden and unexpected demand for a new poster to advertise a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. Mucha volunteered to produce a lithographed poster within two weeks, and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for Gismonda appeared on the streets of the city. It was an overnight sensation and announced the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris.Bernhardt was so satisfied with the success of that first poster that she entered into a 6 years contract with Mucha. Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewellery, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was initially called the Mucha Style but became know as Art Nouveau. Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful healthy young women in flowing vaguely Neoclassical looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed haloes behind the women's heads. In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used paler pastel colors. The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris diffused the "Mucha style" internationally. He decorated the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion and collaborated in the Austrian one. His Art Nouveau style was often imitated. However, this was a style that Mucha attempted to distance himself from throughout his life; he insisted always that, rather than adhering to any fashionable stylistic form, his paintings came purely from within and Czech art. He declared that art existed only to communicate a spiritual message, and nothing more; hence his frustration at the fame he gained through commercial art, when he wanted always to concentrate on more lofty projects that would ennoble art and his birthplace. The rising tide of fascism in the late 1930s led to Mucha's works, as well as his Slavic nationalism, being denounced in the press as 'reactionary'. When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1939, Mucha was among the first people to be arrested by the Gestapo. During the course of the interrogation the aging artist fell ill with pneumonia. Though eventually released, he never recovered from the strain of this event, or seeing his home invaded and overcome. He died in Prague on 14 July of a lung infection, and was interred there in the Vyšehrad cemetery. By the time of his death, Mucha's style was considered outdated. However, his son, author Jiří Mucha, devoted much of his life to writing about him and bringing attention to his art. Interest in Mucha's distinctive style experienced a strong revival in the 1960s (with a general interest in Art Nouveau)and is particularly evident in the psychedelic posters of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, the collective name for two British artists, Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, who designed posters for groups such as Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band. In his own country, the new authorities were not interested in Mucha. His Slav Epic was rolled and stored for twenty-five years before being shown in Moravsky Krumlov and only recently has a Mucha museum appeared in Prague, run by his grandson. [from Wikipedia] Music by:Thomas Newman,Yann Tiersen
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