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Mucha, Alphonse

Category: Artist and sculptor

Alfons Maria Mucha (1860 –1939), often known in English and French as Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, with a unique and easily recognised style.  He produced many truly beautiful paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs.

I will provide a more detailed resume of his work extracted from Wikipedia in a while and the links to the youtube videos in the references are also  very interesting, but none of these go into what a very spiritual man Mucha was. 

He was interested in the occult and communication with spirit helpers.  He gained the help of mediums, drew the ecstatic and researched  symbolism. His art is full of symbolic meaning, wonderful colourful depictions of a spirit realm he seemed to be able to see. 

He understood the importance of the feminine to spiritual experience.  He shows out of body flight, Higher spirits and any number of other spiritual concepts and all in gorgeously rich flowing swirling colours.  The energy of the universe spirals and flows like water if you experience it and Mucha had clearly experienced it.

Mucha always believed that art existed only to communicate a spiritual message, and found the need to do commercial art to earn a living frustrating.

Mucha considered his publication Le Pater to be his printed masterpiece, and referred to it in The Sun of 5 January 1900 as what he had "put [his] soul into". Printed on 20 December 1899, Le Pater was Mucha's occult examination of the themes of The Lord's Prayer and only 510 copies were produced.

I found the following on a Czech website.  It is an excerpt [translated by Google translate] from the document Syllaba Professor George (director Svatopluk Cold, 1994):
My father was one of the founders of Freemasonry in addition to Alphonse Mucha' and Jaroslav Kvapil. Among the Freemasons then joined a generation of Czech intelligence - Viktor Dyk, Svatopluk Machar and many other prominent individuals. Among other things, the Freemasons were also Jan Masaryk, Edvard Beneš, Alois Rasin and Rastislav Stefanik.

 Czech and Czechoslovak Freemasonry .....always took the ideas of tolerance, democracy and humanity. It was never in our movement protináboženským, but not commercial and social. Its main objective was a moral revival of the nation, charitable, philanthropic activities”.

So the impetus for Mucha's spirituality was his sense of service and duty.  His humility, his love for his fellow Slavs and fellow man.  The Freemasons are uniterested in religion or religious denominations.  There are Jewish freemasons and Islamic freemasons and probably Hindu freemasons.  The Catholic church has always been highly antagonistic to the freemason movement in Europe, but there are also Catholic freemasons. 

Spirituality transcends religious dogma.

Within the mechanisms I have listed therefore the two that are particularly relevant to Mucha are Squash the big I am and Reducing desires.  He also practised LOVE.

Alphonse Maria Mucha was born in the town of Ivanovice, Moravia (the present Czech Republic). He was very musical, his singing abilities financed his education through high school in the Moravian capital of Brno.  Drawing had been his main hobby since childhood. He worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery. In 1879, he relocated to Vienna to work for a major Viennese theatrical design company. When a fire destroyed his employer's business during 1881 he returned to Moravia, to do freelance decorative and portrait painting. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov hired Mucha to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals, and was impressed enough that he agreed to sponsor Mucha's formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. In addition to his studies, he worked by producing magazine and advertising illustrations. In Christmas 1894, a commission was received for an advertising poster featuring Sarah Bernhardt. Mucha was asked to produce the poster and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou was posted in the city.  It attracted considerable attention. Bernhardt was so pleased with the success of this first poster that she began a six-year contract with Mucha.

A self-portrait.

Mucha produced a host of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewellery, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was termed initially The Mucha Style.  As it evolved and more artists tried to emulate his work, the style became known as Art Nouveau.

Mucha's abilities were given international exposure by the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris.  He  decorated the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion and collaborated to decorate the Austrian Pavilion.

Mucha married Maruška (Marie/Maria) Chytilová on 10 June 1906, in Prague. The couple visited the U.S. from 1906 to 1910, during which time their daughter, Jaroslava, was born in New York City. They also had a son, (born 12 March 1915 in Prague; died 5 April 1991 in Prague) who later became a journalist, writer, screenwriter, author of autobiographical novels and studies of the works of his father.

In the U.S., Mucha spent a great deal of time trying to raise money to help his countrymen.  Eventually he was helped by millionaire Charles R. Crane. Alphonse and his family returned to the Czech lands and settled in Prague. When Czechoslovakia won its independence after World War I, Mucha designed the new postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents for the new state.

With help from Crane, Mucha spent many years working on what he considered his life's fine art masterpiece, The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic people in general, bestowed to the city of Prague in 1928. He had wanted to complete a series such as this, a celebration of Slavic history, since he was young. The series is stunning.

The rising tide of fascism during the late 1930s resulted in Mucha's works, as well as his Slavic nationalism, being denounced in the press as 'reactionary'. When German troops moved into Czechoslovakia during the spring of 1939, Mucha was among the first persons to be arrested by the Gestapo. During his interrogation, the aging artist became ill with pneumonia. Though released eventually, he may have been weakened by this event. He died in Prague on 14 July 1939, due to lung infection, and was interred there in the Vyšehrad cemetery.

 After the war, his son, author Jirí Mucha, devoted much of his life to writing about him and trying to get his works more widely known.   In his own country, the Communist authorities were not interested in Mucha. His Slav Epic was rolled and stored for twenty-five years  out of sight of the Communists.  From 1963 until 2012, however, the series was on display in the chateau in Moravský Krumlov the South Moravian Region in the Czech Republic. Since 2012 the series has been on display at the National Gallery's Veletržní Palace.

References

More of his paintings can be found on 

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/search/alphonse%20mucha/1

see also

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8PgPvVQcSo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU5gCPQaW3g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZMNOIny7Gs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j47_nIpOnuQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVv4EMLHeyU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUYbtMSaxdU

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