Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha was born in 1860 in the small town of Ivancice, Monrovia. Though it is rumored that Mucha was drawing before he was walking, his early years were spent as a choirboy and amateur musician. It wasn’t until after he finished high school that he came to realize that living people were responsible for the art that he admired in the local churches. That epiphany made him determined to become a painter. He was soon sent off to Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julian. On January 1, 1985, he presented his own new style to the citizens of Paris. Spurning the bright colors and the more square-like shape of the more popular poster artists, the design was a sensation. Art Nouveau can trace its beginnings to about this time, which was the attempt to eradicate the dividing line between art and audience. Mucha’s way was based on a strong composition, sensuous curves derived from nature, refined decorative elements, and natural colors. Art Nouveau percepts were used also, but never at the expense of his own vision. Mucha was always a patriot of his Czech homeland and considered his success a triumph for the Czech people as much as for himself. He began to plan out "The Slav Epic," a series of great paintings chronicling major events in the Slav nation. Mucha’s bequest to his country was received with could shoulders. The geopolitical world ten years after WW1 was very different from the one in which Mucha had begun his project. The rest of Mucha’s life was spent almost as an anachronism. His work was still beautiful and popular, just no longer "new" - a heinous crime in the eyes of the critics. When the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia, he was still influential enough to be one of the first people arrested. He returned home after a Gestapo questioning session and died shortly thereafter on July 14, 1939. Alphonse Maria Mucha was born in 1860 in the town of Ivancice, Moravia (the present Czech Republic). His artistic career began when he worked in decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery. In 1879, he relocated to Vienna to work for a major Viennese theatrical design company, while informally augmenting his artistic education. Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. In addition to his studies, he worked at producing magazine and advertising illustrations. In 1895, he was commissioned to create a poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s play “Gismonda”. The Immediate success that followed, the originality and sensitivity of Mucha’s new style and wide public appreciation, made the legendary actress sign him to a six-year contract to design posters, stage sets and costumes for her plays. By 1898, Mucha had become a famous and creative Art Nouveau artist. His graphic works are based on a strong centered composition and symbolic themes, featuring idealized young female figures in sensuous or provocative poses, entwined in vaporous hair and light dresses enriched by decorative ornaments inspired by nature, such as willowy foliage, flowers and extravagantly beautiful jewels. The figures are detailed by expressive darker lines and enriched by natural soft colors and gold; functional and decorative friezes usually frame the illustrations and the background space is filled by floral or abstract patterns. Source:

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