Alphonse Mucha is the Czech Republic’s best known artist. His work can be seen today in St. Vitus’ Cathedral (stained glass windows), at the Municipal house (frescos) and was even used during the 30s on currency. One of the progenitors of Art Nouveau, Mucha’s work features serene, seductive women framed by swirling pastel foliage. His figures are somehow modern and classical at the same time, with just a whiff of the Byzantine empire. His most productive and influential years were spent in Paris, where as an illustrator, he was commissioned to create a poster for the most celebrated actress of the day, Sarah Bernhardt.
The poster Mucha produced, for the play Gismonda, was a smash hit. Posters were wildly popular in Paris during those years, and collectors often removed posters from sidings as soon as they were put up. This particular poster, with its long, thin format and striking design, combined with Bernhardt’s celebrity made Mucha an overnight sensation. He continued to produce posters for Bernhardt, and also created commercial posters for the likes of Moet & Chandon & Nestle.
Although he worked in other media, including painting, fresco, costume design and photography, Mucha remains best know for his graphic design. He was hugely influential to many of the Fillmore poster artists from the 60s.
The Mucha Museum is a small, well curated collection of Mucha’s work. If you are a fan of posters or design, it is not to be missed. It can be easy to be blase about posters, especially when they are reproduced so often, but seeing the original lithographs in person really makes a difference. The colors and scale of the prints can make you see the work in a whole new way. It’s also interesting to see how Mucha’s paintings informed his print work, and the museum has a nice film in English which gives an overveiw of the artist’s life.
Open daily from 10am-6pm.
If you love Art Nouveau or Graphic Design, don’t miss this jewel-box of a museum.