How is he best known? Sieg­warth:

Dayton Daily News - - LIFE -

con­tin­ued from E1 Paris that New Year.

The ad­ver­tise­ment pre­sented Sarah Bern­hardt in her fea­ture role, set against a halo-like disk and other dec­o­ra­tive mo­tifs. Ap­par­ently, the de­sign was so ad­mired, some peo­ple took to cut­ting the posters off the walls in the dead of night as keep­sakes. Bern­hardt her­self loved the de­sign so much, she be­came one of the pri­mary sup­port­ers of the artist’s work, of­fer­ing him a con­tract to pro­duce stage and cos­tume de­signs as well as litho­graphic prints.

What is Art Nouveau and how does one rec­og­nize it?


Nouveau was a vis­ual, dec­o­ra­tive and ar­chi­tec­tural art style popular from the late 1880’s un­til the First World War when the Art Deco style gained pop­u­lar­ity. Art Nouveau can be rec­og­nized by its high­lystyl­ized forms in­spired by nat­u­ral el­e­ments. You’ll see a lot of long, curv­ing plants and other sin­u­ous line de­tails. And within the vis­ual arts, you will note beau­ti­ful women, or with long, flow­ing hair and se­duc­tive glances — a trade­mark style of Alphonse Mucha.

Mucha was also in­ter­ested in spir­i­tu­al­ism and Ma­sonic phi­los­o­phy. He later be­came a Grand Mas­ter of the Freema­sons of Cze­choslo­vakia which also in­flu­enced many of his later de­signs. At that point in his ca­reer he was try­ing to el­e­vate the mean­ing and in­flu­ence of his de­signs — no longer se­duc­tive women, but fig­ures who rep­re­sented virtrues such as “truth” and “peace.” There are other sym­bols within de­signs that are as­so­ci­ated with the Freema­sons. Some of the works to­wards the end of our ex­hibit demon­strate this change.

What ma­te­ri­als did Mucha use in his art?


As a prin­ci­pal de­signer for ad­ver­tise­ments as well as book and journal il­lus­tra­tions, Mucha made a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of lith­o­graphs. There were sev­eral ad­vance­ments in print­ing and color lithog­ra­phy tech­niques dur­ing his time, mak­ing it an ex­cit­ing medium for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.

Mucha’s lith­o­graphs reflect the rich tex­ture of mod­ern life in Paris at the turn of the cen­tury — this is the op­u­lent Belle Époque and fin-de-siè­cle. His sub­ject mat­ter ranges from bis­cuits, per­fumes and liqueurs to ex­hi­bi­tions and ex­po­si­tions lo­ca­tions. He also did pub­lic­ity for lead­ing the­atri­cal celebri­ties of the era.

Mucha is per­haps best known for the “Slav Epic,” his se­ries of twenty mon­u­men­tal paint­ings de­pict­ing Czech and Slo­vak his­tory. He was an ar­dent sup­porter of Czech in­de­pen­dence and gifted this se­ries of paint­ings in 1928 to Cze­choslo­vakia on the 10th an­niver­sary of its in­de­pen­dence from the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian Em­pire. Also, in 1919, he de­signed the first Czech bank notes, which will be on view in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

What is the range of size of the works shown at The DAI and where do they come from?


There is a great range of size within this ex­hi­bi­tion. There are small ob­jects such as Czech money, and many of the lith­o­graphs on view are nearly seven feet tall.

Most art­works on view are lith­o­graphs, in­clud­ing a few proofs that will give mu­seum visi­tors an idea of the litho­graphic process. Mucha also drew and painted — we’re dis­play­ing sev­eral ex­am­ples — and even as­sisted in jew­elry de­sign. His de­signs were ex­tremely popular and his in­flu­ence could be seen through­out vis­ual and dec­o­ra­tive art ma­te­ri­als.

The show is or­ga­nized in three sec­tions — posters, book and journal il­lus­tra­tions, and The Slav Epic paint­ings. All the art­works on dis­play come from the Dhawan Col­lec­tion, one of the finest pri­vate col­lec­tions of Mucha’s work in the United States.

What would you hope visi­tors take away from the ex­hi­bi­tion?


With any ex­hi­bi­tion, I hope visi­tors are able to see how the art­works on view were in­flu­enced by the time and events sur­round­ing its cre­ation, but also how the vis­ual arts in turn in­flu­enced the world around it.

This ex­hi­bi­tion is a great ex­am­ple of that. Mucha cre­ated sin­gu­lar works that shaped an artis­tic style, changed ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign strate­gies, while also showed au­di­ences to­day the op­u­lent world of turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury Paris.

But most im­por­tantly, I wish for visi­tors to have fun!


Mucha’s ad­ver­tise­ment pre­sented ac­tress Sarah Bern­hardt in her fea­ture role and was wildly popular.

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