Mucha's work for Bernhardt's Gismonda.
photo: Courtesy GMB
The exhibition, covering two floors of Pálffyho Palác, presents a selection of 120 exhibiting a comprehensive cross section of Mucha's Paris work. The richly decorated, brightly coloured and near life-sized paintings contrast with his few coloured picture studies of human parts or flower details. Also exhibited are photographs documenting his family life and some of the live models from which he drew his inspiration.
Alfons Mucha was born in 1860 in Ivančice, which is near the Czech city of Brno. Admiring the art in the local churches he decided to become a painter. In 1887 he went to Paris to study painting at the Academie Julian. Formulating his own art perceptions in 1895, he introduced a new style to Paris. Unknown until then, by creating a poster for Sarah Bernhardt's play Gismonda, he became famous overnight.
The poster started Mucha's career just as the Art Nouveau style began to gain prominence. Signing a contract with Bernhardt, he designed posters, sets and costumes for her plays. Typifying the genre, Mucha's work diversified, ranging from postcards, calendars, book illustrations and tapestry designs to panneaux - sets of four large images around a central theme (four seasons, four times of day, four flowers, etc.). His images were based on strong composition, sensuous curves and decorative elements and natural colours.
In 1909 he was commissioned to paint a series of murals for the Lord Mayor's Hall in Prague. He also began to plan out "The Slav Epic" a series of great paintings chronicling major events in Slav history. Expected to take 5 years, it eventually took 18, culminating in 20 massive (about 24 x 30 feet) canvasses. He died in 1939.
The exhibition runs at Pálffyho Palác on Panská 19 till Sunday, January 14. It is open daily except Mondays from 11:00 to 18:00. Tickets cost 20-50 Sk.