Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Paris: Much Ado about Mucha (and rightfully so!)

On every trip a little rain must fall. Ours fell on a Sunday.


Our plan had been to take off after breakfast for some vide greniers, then visit Rue Mouffetard to catch the street dancing.


We'd wrap it up with a stop at Musee Luxembourg for a visit to the exhibit on artist Alphonse Mucha.


Rain cut the antique sales short -- many had covered up their exhibits by the time we arrived. And we didn't expect the dancers to be out, so we headed to the museum. It was packed.


I'd long wanted to see this exhibit and I thought I might be bitterly disappointed when you could barely move, much less see the art.


But the crowd evened out as we moved along and the end result was fascinating. You are probably familiar with the artist's work, particularly some of his posters for Sarah Bernhardt (I had needlepointed one of these long ago, perhaps the start of my interest in Mucha!).


He was also a leader in the Art Nouveau movement and much of his work was included in advertising on tins and packaging. You could find his work on everything from cookie tins...


...to champagne bottles.


What I didn't realize was that the Czech native returned to Czechoslovakia when he was 43 and created a series of canvases that depicted the history of the Slavic people.


The details on these paintings are remarkable and markedly different from the more art nouveau style of his theatrical and advertising work.


A deeply religious man, he was also quite musical but longed to study art. Although he was rejected from Prague's Academy of Fine Arts, he became an apprentice scenery painter for the theatre in Vienna and also became attracted to photography. He later went into portraiture and decorative art and began to receive some commission work, which brought him travel opportunities and expanded his style as an artist. Ultimately he landed in Paris and began a career in illustration. He expanded his interest in photography and was able to use his photos as inspiration for his art. Soon he was illustrating books as well.


But it was his work for Sarah Bernhardt that brought him great attention. She commissioned him to do a poster for her play, but it wasn't the first time he had painted her.


Earlier he had done illustrations for one of her performances.


The poster he did this time was ornate but in pastel colors, different from other posters of the day and it caused a great sensation. Mucha was given a contract to produce more posters of Bernhardt and he became well known. He also designed sets and costumes for her.


The posters were so popular he became in great demand for advertising posters and packaging. He then launched a series of decorating panels.


His work appeared at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition and then began designing elaborate pieces of jewelry.


His collaboration with jeweler Georges Fouquet brought him great acclaim and Fouquet asked him to design the interior of his new shop, which the artist did with elaborate style in the Art Nouveau manner. He later ventured to America where he continued to meet with great success.


Mucha's love for his native Czechoslovakia continued. But Hitler and the Nazis were coming into power and when they took Prague, Mucha -- a nationalist -- was a prime target. Arrested, he was interrogated for several days and then released, dying four months later  of pneumonia.


Despite being known for his Art Nouveau work, it was his Slav Epic paintings that he viewed as his most significant work. His style has since inspired countless other artists.


I don't know if this exhibit will ever tour, but if it does, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was not only visually stunning but fascinating to learn about the life of this remarkable and gifted man.

(By the way, I'm having trouble directly replying to comments, Blogger having stopped my notifications. I just want to let you know that I read and really appreciate (and am motivated by!) your comments and if I don't reply back, it's that manually dealing with these right now is making me a little crazy. Hopefully it'll be resolved in due course, otherwise, I'll go back to adding the reply page on my blog.)

Sharing this week with:    Let's Keep in Touch    

41 comments:

William Kendall said...

I think that's the first time I've heard of Mucha. Very vivid work!

David Gascoigne said...

Thanks for introducing me to Mucha. I was previously unaware of him.

Joanne Huffman said...

I love this! I didn't know Mucha beyond the posters. Thank you!

Joyful said...

I've seen so much of this man's work without ever knowing his name (posters, tins and so on). I really love the art nouveau style. Thanks for introducing me to Mucha.

My name is Erika. said...

These are gorgeous. Too bad for the rain but the Mucha exhibit sure made up for it. Hugs-Erika

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I love this! I learned so much about Mucha that I didn’t know. I was aware of his posters, but not much beyond that. I am so excited to see Paris through your camera lens!

Mac n' Janet said...

I've always admired his work, but knew nothing about him so I really enjoyed your post.

Mae Travels said...

Mucha was a highly appreciated example for some of the graphic artists of San Francisco in the 1960s, as well as being popular and influential in his own time. I think I've seen exhibits of his work in the past, but I can't remember exactly when or where. He really created an unforgettable look for both fine art and advertising!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Kitty said...

This is my first time to meet Mucha through your eyes and camera. Thank you so very much for sharing.

Pamela said...

Sorry about the rain, but the museum exhibit looks wonderful. Thank you for all the photos and the history lesson!

Iris Flavia said...

Without rain, no life, right ;-)
You had me awwww... and ohhh-ing here! Beautiful works!!!
And then....
That chair in your first pic, that camping chair folded. My childhood. Happy days.
Sometimes rain and little things are happiness also.
:-)

Valerie-Jael said...

You know how much I love Mucha's work - what a fantastic exhibition! As a kid I used to collect tins and cards with his work printed on them. Thanks for sharing all those fantastic paintings. Hugs, Valerie
PS Sorry you are still having problems!

Wandering Wren said...

Every rain cloud has a silver lining and you certainly found yours. I pleased you were able to move around and enjoy this wonderful exhibition of Mucha's work. I don't know why but I'm always astonished at the travel that people did in those days!
Wren

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very good. Thank you for sharing!
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eileeninmd said...

Hello,

Mucha is new to me, his artwork is beautiful. The Bernhardt poster does look familiar though. Wonderful exhibit. I am glad it was not too crowded and you were able to enjoy the art. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

Sami said...

I'm familiar with his art, specially the posters and biscuit tins, etc, but didn't anything about the artist, so enjoyed reading about his life.
Thanks Jeanie, beautiful photos.

Jean R. said...

I have long been a fan of the Art Nauveau Movement but I really didn't know a lot about Mucha. So this post was especially fascinating. Love, LOVE this post and all the images you've shared. What a great 'travel diary' you're creating here.

Rita C. said...

Gorgeous artistry! I am drawn to this period second only to Art Deco.Thank you for sharing more about Alphonse Mucha - his works are fabulous!

shoreacres said...

I would go to this exhibition in a minute! I love Mucha, and have for years. As a matter of fact, have you ever noticed my avatar? Yep -- that's Mucha's "Poetry," from his series of the four arts. Here's an image of the entire piece. Even when I thought briefly about changing my avatar to use a photo of myself, I just couldn't give up my Mucha!

Lucky,lucky Jeanie, and lucky me to get to see so much of his work through your camera and your eyes!

The French Hutch said...

A wonderful way to spend a rainy day or any day. With all my research for trips I”ve never found this exhibit. I am happy you posted about this, will definitely add this to my next trip agenda. Simply beautiful and worth fighting the crowd! I’ve been having problems with my email and comments as well. They didn’t show up for awhile and then poof, they were back. Hopefully yours will........

La Table De Nana said...

I was familiar w/ the artwork for certain..never knew the artist's name and I thank you:) I love visiting a place that becomes unforgettable and educates us!

Jennie said...

I saw this exhibit twice in Paris in late October. Fantastic! To further the Mucha mindset, walk over to Bistro Mucha at Bellechasse and San Germain for a wonderful lunch.

Pam Jackson said...

Such beautiful art. Love my tour with you through Paris. Thanks for sharing it all.

Linda deV said...

I am so very sorry I missed this one. I'll catch it the next time I pass through. ♥♥

Great pictures as usual and great story too.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Oh, wow - I would love to see this exhibition! I've always adored Mucha - but I am only familiar with the advertising and art nouveau paintings. I didn't realize he done those very interesting nationalist works. I have to go do a little googling and research up some more photos! Fascinating. How fortunate to have seen these up close and personal! I've seen some of the old original posters - but never actual posters (I don't think). Thanks so much for sharing this bit of your holiday!
... and I would have loved hitting that antique market, too! LOL

Preppy Empty Nester said...

I would LOVE to see that exhibit. Great pics. Have a wonderful week, Jeannie.

Sandra Cox said...

Wow! How fascinating.

DUTA said...

I suppose his slavic works are the best. Once a Slav, always a Slav.

Anonymous said...

Extraordinary post today.....thank you!
Phyllis

Marilyn Miller said...

I must say I am a huge fan of Mucha and his art; though I couldn't have told you his name. I love, love, love Art Nouveau so much. I love that era for the art and for clothing. How I would love seeing this exhibit and will definitely hope it comes to my museum in the future.

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

What a disappointment about the antique show, but the art you got to see is fabulous!!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I was aware of Mucha from his work in Art Nouveau, but knew nothing about the religious art he created. His designs are popular in many areas, I think it was a treat to visit the museum. Your feet were more up to the task than they might have been if you had spent lots of time iin the antique markets.

Danielle L Zecher said...

I hadn't heard of him before, so thanks for sharing. How incredibly talented he was.

Tracy said...

Oooo...Mucha!! To see so much of his work in one place... treats!! What a special exhibit... I do hope it will travel place... We've always appreciated the work of Mucha, and we would love to see this exhibit if it comes to Scandinavia. Thanks for taking us along! So much enjoying your memories and imagine from Europe! :)) ((HUGS))

BB said...

Thanks for the introduction to Mucha. So glad you enjoyed it.

Louca por porcelana said...

Great post!Thanks for sharing!Hugs!

Beatrice Euphemie said...

A wonderful post - I love the art of Mucha - so interesting to see the exhibit and the information you have shared. How exciting to see it up close and personal. I am catching up on your trip - it all looks so amazing. Hugs x Karen

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I hadn't heard of this artist so thank you for introducing him to me! His work is incredible! I'm glad the museum crowds thinned out! It's the worst when it's so crowded you can't move around easily or take in the art!

I hope you get the commenting issue figured out - how frustrating!!

Katie Mansfield said...

Lovely. I hadn't heard of that museum. We really didn't find a Paris flea market much to my disappointment. Thanks for sharing at Keep In Touch.

Beverly said...

Amazing! Breathtaking! Stunning!!! I am so glad you shared this with us. This post is being featured on my Pink Saturday post this week as "the one that caught my eye".

Happy Pink Saturday, Jeanie.♥♥♥

Lynne said...

Beautiful art . . .
I would love seeing in person . . .

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