Alphonse Marie Mucha Art Nouveau Master

Alphonse Marie Mucha was a Czech painter who lived from 1860 until his death in 1939. He was known mainly for his painting, but had a number of other talents including lithography, fine jewelry making, sculpting and instruction. He was furthermore a gifted poster artist of popular lithographs. He had a life long interest with religion and mysticism and a fervent patriotic desire for his own country.In 1871, Alphonse Mucha actually attempted to follow a career as a singer when he joined the choir at St Peter’s Cathedral in Brno, the Czech Republic, where he went to grammar school. His singing goals however were sad to say cut short in 1875 when his voice started to break in the midst of his teenage years. At this point Mucha took up drawing lessons since he was not able to pursue his singing any further.Around two years later, Mucha applied for admission to the Academy of Visual Arts in Prague but was not successful in his attempt to be accepted. He wasn’t deterred by this and he continued his drawing lessons. He had his first break in 1879 when he secured a job in Vienna as an assistant in a firm that made stage sets. It was an education for him, especially in the art of interior decorating and design. Mucha’s illustration and painting skills were developing and improving, so much so, that a local nobleman, Count Karl Khuen-Belassi, was so impressed by Mucha, that he commissioned him to redecorate the Emmahof Castle in Moravia. The Count also decided to sponsor his formalized art education around the time of 1884.His style of painting grew and began having a major impact on many of his compatriots at the time, including other painters, artists and designers. He did not welcome the popularity which found him throughout his working life and considered the real and the true form of art should ascend the material trappings of life.The primary style of painting which Alphonse Marie Mucha developed and became connected with was Art Nouveau, the French term for ‘new art’ which was an artistic style and form of depicting art from around the 1880′s up to 1910. The distinctive style of Art Noveau placed focus on natural curved and linear designs and floral designs and was used mainly in other art design and forms such as architecture, sculpture and jewelry design. Of all his varied work, Alphonse Mucha was most commonly known for his sweeping and luxurious poster designs in the form of broadsheets. These are typically ranked among among the best work of the Art Noveau period. Many of the depictions featured eye-catching women but these were never graphic or sexual which typified the other painting art forms of the period. Some of his best product was created for the popular actress Sarah Bernhardt around the 1890′s. Mucha was involved in doing quite a varied amount of work for Bernhardt which involved set design, costume design and jewelry. Mucha became successful in the USA as well as Europe and often journeyed to the States.Alphonse Marie Mucha died in 1939, the year of the start of the Second World War. Following the war, his style of art and his paintings and broadsheet depictions were unfavorably out of fashion. During the 1960′s however, there was clearly a revival and renewed curiosity about his work and the Art Nouveau style. Ever since then, many books and shows have been written and dedicated to the work of Alphonse Mucha and there was a major showing of his paintings, broadsheet posters, drawings, jewelry and even furniture design at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1980. He has lived on in popular culture and is now one of the more influential figures in the Art Nouveau genre.

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