Mucha at MAG - Visions of Splendor
-by Carol White Llewellyn
I recently had a chance to see the Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau at Memorial Art Gallery. I have been an admirer of Alphonse Mucha's work and the Art Nouveau movement since studying in Paris during college. There, in spite of the many other art movements that were born there and that have risen to popularity, Mucha's work continues to be celebrated, even 80 years after his passing.
Mucha was a Czechoslovakian painter who spent much of his early career in Paris, helping to shape the French Art Nouveau style. Not only was he a prolific artist, but advanced techniques of reproduction helped disseminate his work far and wide, to grace everything from book and magazine covers and advertising campaigns, to art posters and jewelry. His career quickly soared, unexpectedly, in 1896 when the famous actor Sarah Bernhardt hired him to design a poster for the extension of her run in the play Gismonda.
Mucha is best known for his depiction of beautiful and elegant women, surrounded by rich, flowing and finely-detailed ornamentation in exquisite, opulent colors. Through his artistic vision, he sought to make art and beauty available to all, and to remove the boundaries between "high" and "low" art.
The exhibit at Memorial Art Gallery is beautifully curated, The original curation was done by Dr. Gabriel Weisberg, Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. It is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue that includes an essay by Weisberg and essays, texts, and photographs from the Mucha Foundation. The exhibit encompasses over 70 works from his earlier years in Paris, his work for the The Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, his travels in the U.S., and his subsequent return to Czechoslavokia, where he began fulfilling his lifelong dreams of becoming a painter of Slavic history.
Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau runs through January 19 at Memorial Art Gallery. It is a feast for the senses and a must-see exhibit. Click here for additional information.
Image at right: Alphonse Mucha, Paris 1900, Austria at the World’s Fair, 1900. Color lithograph on paper.
Lead-in promo image: Alphonse Mucha, Zodiaque, 1896. Color lithograph on paper.