Looking for something else this afternoon, I stumbled upon a poster by Alphonse Mucha. Just for a moment I was back at school, and felt that old familiar pain… ahem. I remembered how much I LOVED his work and down the rabbit hole I went for the remainder of the day.
My dorm room in college was plastered with cheap imitations of his posters. And one of Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, but that is a post for another day.
Born in Morovia (now the Czech Republic), he went to Paris after his schooling like every other artist of his time. He had a patron for a short time, but spent most of his early years there as a truly starving artist. In 1895 he produced a poster for Sarah Bernhardt (more here) as Gismonda and became an overnight sensation. His work laid the foundation of the Art Nouveau style, even though he tried to distance himself from the movement. In the late 1930′s, his word was denounced as “reactionary” (like everything else of beauty). He was among the first arrested when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, and died that summer from a lung infection after an interrogation session with Gestapo agents.
His style “…was based on a strong composition, sensuous curves derived from nature, refined decorative elements and natural colors.” I see the same elements in Tolkien’s Elvish designs and later in the visually delicious LOTR movies.
He created many posters, paintings and drawings for singers, actors and musicians of his time, but I’d never seen this one. It is almost like he drew it just for me…