National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library presents Alphonse Mucha. Inspirations of Art Nouveau

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library presents Alphonse Mucha. Inspirations of Art Nouveau, an exhibition on view through December 31, 2012.

Alphonse Mucha, Princess Hyacinth, 1911, color lithograph.

Paintings, jewelry, sculptures and lithographs, coming direct from the Mucha Foundation in Prague and London, are the first exhibit in the Jiruska Gallery after the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s grand opening. Not since 1999 has an exhibit of this size and caliber appeared in the United States and it is the first of its type to appear in the Midwest region.

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is best known for his illustrations and poster art used as advertisements for shows in Paris. In fact, Mucha’s move to Paris in his late twenties transformed his entire career. In Paris, he created magazine and advertising illustrations, living a modest life until he designed a lithographed poster for a play featuring the most famous actress in Paris at the time, Sarah Bernhardt. The poster attracted attention—even Bernhardt took notice and placed him on contract for six years.

More than a painter, Mucha also created deigns for jewelry, carpets and wallpaper. What was deemed the “Mucha Style” soon turned into something greater—“Art Nouveau.” Many of Mucha’s works depict young females in flowing dresses and robes, surrounded by jewels and lush flowers. Mucha used paler pastel colors with expertly used pops of color.

Though he attained fame during his lifetime, Mucha became frustrated with the public’s demand for commercial art. Although he produced everything from graphic art for menus to advertisements for Nestlé, he wanted to produce art of his own accord instead of something commissioned.

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, IA. For more information visit www.NCSML.org or call 319-362-8500.

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