The fetishized Art Nouveau painter returns to Paris Sept 12, 2018 until Jan 27, 2019 for the first retrospective since 1980. It's the perfect occasion to discover the celebrated posters that accorded Mucha his glory, as well as many other facets of the talent of an artist totally dedicated to the favor of Slavic peoples.
When one hears Alphonse Mucha's name, one thinks of the scroll posters of female figures interlaced with flowers—the emblems of Art Nouveau. The other side of Mucha is less known—the side of a painter devoted to the cause of his country of origin, the Czech future, and the beauty of Slav culture.
A decisive meeting with actress Sarah Bernhardt
Originally of Moravia, then attached to the kingdom of Bohemia, Alphonse Mucha emigrated to Paris at age 27 and quickly found work as a poster designer and illustrator. But, what truly launched his career was a meeting with the actress Sarah Bernhardt. After producing the theatrical poster for Gismonda in record time, the great tragedy actress contracted Mucha for other publicity posters.
Set, posters, paintings, photography, and pastels
Friends with Gaugin and Rodin, the versatile artist artist also brilliantly played decorator and interior designer: he designed jewelery for the famous jeweler Georges Fouquet rue Royale in Paris, today reconstituted at the Carnavalet museum. His style is easily recognizable: his arabesque flourishes and plant motifs are plainly visible on the ornaments at the Luxembourg Museum. Alongside those are his posters, paintings, photographs, and pastels testify to his sense of aesthetics in all its forms.
His great work that occupied the last 30 years of his life however remains his (monumental) project to represent the customs of the Czech people, then subservient to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The numerous preporatory sketches on display wtiness the incredible amplitude of the project: through 20 gigantic paintings, some of which are more than eight meters (26 feet) high, Alphonse Mucha tells the epic of the Slav people on the eve of their emancipation.