In praise of Alfons Mucha

Recently discovered as one of my Favourite Artists™!

Until two weeks before Christmas I’d never even heard of him, until a friend of mine recommended I visit the Mucha exhibition in Munich over the holidays. So, my dad and I went there… and we were mucha (apologies for the bad pun) impressed!

What about him then?

Well if you want to read more details just go to the all-knowing WikiGod :-)… all I know is that I saw lots of his works in the exhibition in the “Hypo” (I think Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung is a bit much).

And. They. Were. Amazing!

After this, and after seeing many brilliant examples of Jugendstil (Art Nouveau, but I prefer the German) in the architecture in Munich – such as the Orlando Haus – I have now officially promoted Jugendstil to be my:

2nd Most Bestest Favouritistest Art Style
in the World, Ever! (&c.)!!!111oneoneoneahundredandeleven

Replacing Baroque which drops to 3rd. Tough luck. Should have painted the Theatinerkirche in pastel you bastards!!

OK cool down… so, Jugendstil – I like. I suppose a recurring theme throughout my favourite styles (to be clear: 1 – Gothic; 2 – Jugendstil; 3 – Baroque) is that all are fairly “busy”, with decorations and lots of detail. Renaissance, Romanesque and even the more modern style(s) I guess simply don’t keep my attention for long – although I do also appreciate the abstract minimalism of the latter, just in a different way.

Anyway, back to Mucha!

Why do I like him?

I don’t know… I just do!

As I said above, it’s the Jugendstil way of adding decorations to the central theme – in his case (mostly female) figures. I also like the way that paintings and drawing are nearly two-dimensional and cartoon-like, with the visible outlining. And the soft yet primary colours (yeah it’s pastel again :p) are easy on the eye. With regard to “writing”, there is no other period in history – IMO – that has created so many wonderfully complex, extravagant yet elegant fonts/typeface.

Mucha in particular just has done all of these things, really well, and more – his series of paintings “the Slav Epic” is monumental, I love it, and the bust “Nature” too.

Favourites

Oh too many! (below the fold…)

As for his (commercial) poster-work, I thought all of his work for and with Sarah Bernhardt was outstanding. Very varied, each piece unique.

The "Gismonda" poster that started much, if not all

Then there were a number of #quadtychs that I really liked:

the Arts;

Dance; Music; Painting; and Poetry

the Four Seasons –  can’t seem to find the ones I saw online (or I misremember how they looked :-S); and

four gems – amethyst, topaz, emerald and ruby (can’t find them in a single image!)

Topaz; Ruby

Emerald - amazing!

Paintings… as I said I think the whole series of the Slav Epic is amazing, with the Apotheosis of the Slavs as the highlight; I love the colouring, all the symbolism, and just that it’s big (huge is a better word; humongous is probably the best word) and full, rich.

Illustrations, I was blown away by the whole concept, the integration, of how he did Ilsée; the whole range from abstract patterns to people, all tailor-made to fit the text… magnificent.

And finally there’s the bust Nature, that I also like a lot, very simple, very elegant. I especially – as  with the posters – like the contrast between the non-detailed figure (the hair is just stylised) and the highly ornate tiara.

I’ve probably forgotten a few even now… like the stained glass window he designed for the St Vitus cathedral in Prague. Oh well.

So there you have it, Mucha, artist of the year 2009 (or whaevva)!

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