Jul 14, 2012
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Alphonse Mucha, creator of Art Nouveau – His life & works published in books and popular culture.

Apologies for the delay between posts!

There’s been a lot going on at work.. new job and have been settling into it. But I’m back now and will continue posting on a more regular basis :)

Ever since I worked at a comic book shop in the early 90′s, I was fascinated by the beautiful and ornate artwork created by Alphonse Mucha. It wasn’t because at the time the comic shop sold Mucha artwork but that his style of work, Art Nouveau, was interpreted by one of my favourite comic book artists, Joe Quesada. Quesada had created some X-Men posters in the style of Art Nouveau and I loved them. Ornate, organic and beautifully detailed I wanted to know more about Mucha and the origins of this art movement. One of the posters is linked in a Tumblr blog further in my post.

Alphonse Mucha was renowned throughout Europe as a master of the decorative art style he created, they dubbed Art Nouveau.

It would only ever be a dream to actually own any of his original art but a great way to learn more about his work, his life and his everlasting inspiration to the world is by the books featuring his story.

This isn’t really an art lesson,  as there are plenty of sites devoted to Mucha and his life, but an avenue to the ways you can appreciate his work, learn more about him in detail and study the way he lived his life. There have been many books written over the years devoted to Mucha. The most important of those are the ones that were created by his son Jiri as they provide a very personal and in depth account of his life, right up until his death in 1939. Just in case you wanted to know a little more, here’s a trailer for a great Mucha documentary I need to find:

My Mucha Book Collection

Alphonse Maria Mucha - His Life in Art by Jiri Mucha. Academy Editions - 1989. This is my prized book and features 300 pages of his work including some in a fold out. It's known as the definitive biography as Jiri, his son, has access to documents, correspondence and much more to bring about a truly comprehensive look at Mucha and his life.

 

Alphonse Mucha - Revised Enlarged Edition by Jiri Mucha, Marina Henderson, Aaron Scharf. 144 pages Published 1974. Features beautiful behind the scenes photos and concept work for many of his famous works and talks about his time in Paris, his camera work and The Slav Epic. Written by his son, Jiri along with Marina Henderson and Aaron Schaf.

 

A page from Alphonse Mucha – Revised Enlarged Edition by Jiri Mucha, Marina Henderson, Aaron Scharf. Here's early pencil work for Mucha's Zodiac

 

This small 96 page book features a bio on Alphonse Mucha as well as a series of images featuring some of his work - owned by private collectors and museums in Prague.

 

Mucha - text by Patrick Bade, 2005. A beautiful book that provides a mini biography of Mucha, and then nice reproductions of works during every phase of his career.

 

Inside the book, Mucha - text by Patrick Bade, 2005. Mucha's professional relationship with French actress, Sarah Bernhardt provided the inspiration for a large proportion of his Art Nouveau work. Besides the famous posters he created, there were requests for sets, costumes and props and on occasion, jewellery.

 

Alphonse Mucha Coloring Book, Pomegranate Books, 2011. A fun book that features outlines of 22 famous Mucha paintings and illustrations. Colour them in however you like and there's a page at the back for you to create your own Art Nouveau masterpiece!

 

Art Nouveau - revolutions in interior design. Rossana Bossaglia, 1973 (translated edition). A really nice book that talks about Mucha's influence in design and features many photos of flowing, organic design work as it permeated through interior design around the world. From stairs and window frames to furniture, lamps and vases.

Other ways to enjoy Mucha’s art 

Besides the books, there have been other collectables created so people can enjoy Mucha’s art wherever they are.

Mucha collectible figures from Japan

Japan has had a long lasting interest in his works and one toy company, Kaiyodo, created a series of ‘Museum Figures’ that are 3D recreations of his famous artworks. They are hard to come by now,  and I have found some images which will hopefully help someone out there track these down one day!

 

Alphonse Mucha - figure museum toys from Japan. Of course, the Japanese love the beautifully ornate flowing work of Mucha and there have been different series of toys created to capture his work. This series is called La Nature, and were released in 2005. They have long sold out and part of the reason was a very rare version that featured an actual diamond in the figure. Some have said they don't truly do his work justice, but I think they are pretty good.

 

Alphonse Mucha - Japanese collectible toy series, The Seasons. I thought I would post some images saved from a Japanese site which are from 2005. The link to the actual site is below, I really wanted to save these for posterity just in case the original source ever disappears.

 

Here’s the link to the original owner of the Mucha Museum images.

 

Alphonse Mucha - Figure Museum series. Based on The Flowers. This was another figure series from Japan that featured mini reproductions of another Mucha series of paintings called, The Flowers. Again, it had a secret version with a real diamond and this helped them sell out quickly. Very hard to find and they came in two versions, one painted and the other featured a natural sculptural tone.

 

 Alphonse Mucha and popular culture

It’s interesting to know that Mucha’s work fell out of fashion until the 1960′s where there was a new generation of people to discover it. It was widely copied, and not often credited to his work but that did change over time.

Today, there are many artists in the world who create artwork based on his influential Art Nouveau movement. Here’s a great tumbler page that collates different people’s works, on lots of different subjects, all featuring the decorative styling of Art Nouveau including one of the Joe Quesada X-Men posters that introduced me to his work. There’s also Doctor Who characters, Marvel comic characters like this Iron Man and of course Star Wars is well represented.

Not all of Mucha’s art is out of reach

If you are interested in owning works by Mucha, there’s some nice ways to own some. In the late 1920′s he created bank notes for his native Czech Republic and they are both beautiful representations of his art and very collectible.

Alphonse Mucha - Czech bank notes. Around the late 1920's Mucha designed the bank notes for his beloved Czech republic. They are a great way to own art created by Mucha and although getting hard to find are a beautiful momento of his work.

While Mucha never wanted to be remembered only for his Art Nouveau works (which spanned about 10 years) they are the lasting legacy by which people have loved and appreciated his art. I recommend you take the time to explore more of this great man’s work as it helps appreciate it all the more.

8 Comments

  • Love the Czech bank notes!!! Stunning.

  • Thank you Sky, yes they are beautiful artworks. I think more countries should follow suit and make their currency a little nicer to look at.

  • Nicholas, makes me want to look further into his art

    • Stephen, please do! It’s beautiful work.

  • Nick, what a fantastic recap of Mucha’s work. Being born in Czechoslovakia I am very familiar with the banknotes via my uncle’s collection. They would be worth quite a bit of money now I reckon…really enjoyed reading your blog.

    • Thanks Jarka! I’m hoping to visit the museum there some day… appreciate you stopping by :)

  • One of the nicests articles ive reads on alphonse mucha,thanks so much !
    He is a big inspiration to me!
    If you have time,check out my website for a few of my mucha inspired designs! :)

    • Thank you so much Jan! Send me through your website, would love to see it!

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