In our first lesson of the year we had a look at Alfons Mucha arguably one of the greatest Czech artists and certainly one of the most famous of the period known as The First Republic. Mucha is known for his Art Nouveau style in the painting of famous advertising posters in France as well as his magnum opus of the Slavic Epic which took almost 20 years to complete. Here are some facts about Alfons Mucha (taken from Yizzam):
1. Mucha could have been a singer
If he hadn’t been a painter, there’s a really good chance that Mucha would have still been in the arts in some way. He spent his teen years singing at church and for small gatherings. He was quite good and people often told him he should pursue a career in singing. His love of physical art, however, was too strong and he decided to spend his adult years focusing on it instead.
2. He inspired comic books
Perhaps the original graphic artist, Mucha’s artistic style influenced the art of Joe Quesada and Stan Lee, the two famous comic book artists behind Marvel comics. Mucha’s art particularly inspired Iron Man. Now that you know that, you may look at his famous posters a little differently as the “characters” in his prints almost come to life as superheroes.
3. His birth month and his death month are the same
Well that’s creepy! The artist was born on July 24, 1860 in Ivancice, (modern Czechia) and died on July 14, 1939, Prague in Czechia. The weird thing is, this happens more than you would think. The average death rate on or around a person’s birthday is 6.7 higher than any other time of the year.
4. He was a starving freelance artist
And if he were alive today would probably live in a loft in Brooklyn. Okay, so we may be going a little far with that one. But for the most part, though talented, Alphonse Mucha wasn’t a rich man and took gigs as they came. He lived in Moravia and worked many painting jobs that were part of theatrical scenery. He later moved to Vienna and painted for a large company, which added to his artistic skills. However, when the building of the company caught fire in 1881, he had to return to Moravia and freelance again. He mainly took on portrait art and decorative painting.
5. He was college educated
While living in Paris in 1887, he pursued higher education at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. Yet despite his hefty academic schedule he continued to work on magazine art and advertising illustrations. What a go-getter!
6. Christmas 1894 was a big year for him
Every artist dreams of getting that big gig, well it happened to Mucha on Christmas 1894. That was the year he was hired to produce a new illustration in the form of an advertisement for a play. One of the famous actors in the play was Sarah Bernhardt (see below). They needed the lithograph print in two weeks and Mucha did not disappoint. He not only met the deadline, but people absolutely loved the poster. Bernhardt was so impressed she offered him a six year contract. Talk about a merry Christmas!
7. He brought Art Nouveau to Paris
His artistic pieces and illustrative posters captured the worldliness and decadence of the fin de siècle and the belle époque during a time when the city was the resplendent cultural capital of the world. After living in Paris, he actually spent four years in the United States before he moved back to his home country and eventually settling in Prague.
8. He was religious
Mucha was deeply religious because he came from a very spiritual family. The Church was a major influence in his early life as well as his art. He painted and created church decorations in the early part of his career and continued to be fascinated by spiritualism throughout his life and was known to dabble in the occult.
9. The Nazis arrested him
Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis in 1939. At the time Mucha’s art made him a target and he was among the first to be arrested. The intense interrogation by the Nazi soldiers weakened the almost 80 year old artist who was already suffering from pneumonia. When they finally released him, he died shortly afterwards.
10. His art continues to inspire
His art lives on in the hearts of admirers the world over. Although pieces of Mucha’s art can be found in museums around the globe, the Mucha Museum in Prague is the only museum in the world dedicated to the life and work of Alphonse Mucha. It first opened to the public in February 1998 and holds an approximately 3,000 works of art and 4,000 photographs. The collection includes: oil prints, lithographs of theater posters, art posters, advertising posters, magazine covers and print ephemera including menus and theater programs. The collection also holds and array of jewelry and medals, pastels and drawings, sculptures and various other designs.
If you don’t feel like making the trip all the way to Prague, you can save yourself a little time and air fare by getting your hands on a Mucha print or two of your own in a much easier way. Our all over print Alphonse Mucha collection is full of his distinctive masterpieces perfect for any style.