Monday, 15 April 2013

M for Mucha

One of my favourite artists of all time is Alphonse Mucha, the Czech born painter and illustrator. His beautiful illustrations and inspired design work are somewhat timeless in their appeal. He is an artist who was dismissed by many critics during his lifetime because of his work on poster design and illustration - seen as a low-brow form of art (as it still is, by some). However, for me, he was a key artist in a developing form, whose design sensibilities and passionate belief in the art of his own country spurred him on to travel the world and develop his style.

The Four Seasons 1900 - Alphonse Mucha

When I moved into my first flat on my own, one of the first things I purchased was a set of prints of The Four Seasons created by Mucha, in 1900. He often worked on the theme of the four seasons but this is my favourite of all the versions he created. At a time when I was uncertain of the future, I found these images inspiring and emotional. The beauty and hope he found in each of the seasons gave me such reassurance that Winter will move on to Spring - things will change and move on and more beauty will be revealed.

The view of Mala Strana over the Vlatava River.
In March 2008, my friend Moira and I decided to take a trip to Prague, very much spurred on by our fascination with Mucha's work and the mysteries of this city and its fascinating history. I discovered a beautiful city, with unique architecture, public art work on every corner and a focus on form as well as function. The Municipal House in the centre of the city was built as a celebration of Czech art and Mucha contributed to several murals and the overall design of the building. It stands as a symbol of the vast influence the Czech artists had on the Art Nouveau movement and remains an amazing place to visit, both inside and out.

The restaurant inside the Municipal House in Prague, 
where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.
The Municipal House in Prague. 

Mucha was a man who had also his faults. He is credited with establishing the Prague chapter of Freemasonry, an organisation I find particularly suspicious, and his work was instrumental in the development of advertising, as he produced many images for print adverts. However, his passion for his craft and the focus he put on promoting the work of his countrymen cannot be denied.

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