“The mission of art is to express each nation’s aesthetic values in accordance with the beauty of its soul. The mission of the artist is to teach people to love that beauty.” —Alphonse Mucha Alphonse Mucha was an extraordinarily prolific and versatile artist who made his mark in the diverse fields of design—including posters, jewelery, interior decoration, theater, and packaging and product designs— as well as in painting, book illustration, sculpture, and photography. He is one of the best-known Czech artists to wide international audiences today and rose to fame in fin-de-siècle Paris with his elegant designs for theater posters for Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous French actress of the time, and decorative panels (panneaux décoratifs) featuring gracefully posed women. For those posters, Mucha created a distinctive style—“le style Mucha”—characterized by harmonious compositions, sinuous forms, organic lines, and a muted palette, which became synony- mous with the newly emerging decorative style of the time—Art Nouveau. By the time of the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900, Mucha had become a leading figure in this decorative-art movement, and he defined the look of the era. The catalog explores the development of Mucha’s career and overall achievements as a multifaceted and visionary artist. It is divided into six sections highlighting Mucha’s personality as a Bohemian; a picture maker for people; a cosmopolitan; a mystic; a patriot; and a philosopher.
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