Alphonse Mucha 1860 - 1939
A young woman's face looking at you, her body draped in loose clothing, imbued with both tradition and modernity, bare shoulders, a crown of flowers that blends into a curvaceous, elaborate decor, both adornment and relief of an idealized space. The young woman appears to be reading what must be a catalog.
When, in 1897, he composed this advertising image entitled Rêverie pour Champenois, its publisher and printer, Alphonse Mucha, had been living in Paris for ten years. Art Nouveau unfolds with the vivacity of a movement that the era recognizes as an emanation of itself, fascinated and worried by the industrialization which is transforming the world, and tired of the repetition of the artistic styles of the 19th century around of classicism. With its sinuous lines, its pastel colors, its plant and animal ornamentation which invades the space, the representation is both carnal and ethereal, accessible to the general public also because artists like Mucha make great use of modern means of reproduction , notably lithography, marketing their images in various formats which ensure very wide distribution.
A native of Moravia (today in the Czech Republic) and who arrived in Paris from Vienna in 1887, Mucha was catapulted to the forefront of the artistic scene in 1894 through a collaboration with the actress Sarah Bernhardt who then played in Gismonda. The poster he composed opened the doors to a partnership with the actress that would last six years and to a world which, in return, enthusiastically took up his complex iconography.
Subsequently, Mucha preferred not to be associated too exclusively with Art Nouveau and, after settling in Prague, he devoted himself to the creation of what he considered to be his great work – a series of paintings monumental works representing the Slavic Epic – but the popularity of his posters and lithographs will benefit from an extraordinary longevity, witness to their timeless character.