The Praguian charm of Alfons Mucha

Until 20 March Palazzo Reale in Milan hosts more than 150 artworks by the famous artist Alfons Mucha whose Art Nouveau strongly influenced his contemporaries’ taste through design, ads and objects.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to spend just a few days in Prague, can easily recognise in Alfons Mucha’s art (1860-1939) the most figurative representation of the unique genius of the capital of the Czech Republic. These references and figurative archetypes will be evoked in Palazzo Reale, Milan, where more than 150 works of the famous Praguian painter will be shown until March 20 in an exhibition entitled Alfons Mucha and the Art Nouveau atmospheres, that is going to be held in the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa from 30 April to 18 September.


A universe populated by a multitude of flowers or typical motifs shaped like flames and shells, but also women with long hair that twists into endless loops with a life of their own, to point out the peculiar ambivalence of a woman who can be elegant, graceful and light like an angel as well as seductive like a true femme fatale.


The exhibition is organised in several different sections standing for the areas of interest in which Mucha expressed himself: the theatre with the portraits of the diva Sarah Bernhardt, the constant references to animals including dragonflies, snakes, peacocks and aquatic creatures, as well as flowers that best represent the Liberty style including irises, water lilies, lilies and roses, or allegorical representations of the passing of time, through seasons, times of the day or calendars.


Alfons Mucha Sarah Bernhardt
Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt


An entire section is devoted to “Japonism” i.e. the influence of exotic and oriental styles of art like the two-dimensional style or the contrast between particularly bright colours. Mucha’s modern versatility is also highlighted in the exhibition: the artist constantly pursued an ideal of contamination between pictorial, decorative and ornamental art productions through which he deeply influenced the taste of his peers, as it is reflected in the number of rivals or imitators that are mentioned or whose works support Mucha’s ones.


We can find fragments of Mucha’s ethereal and dancing world in the jewelry he designed as well as in precious objects, scenic design and everyday objects such as the famous LU biscuits (Lefèvre-Utile), the Idéal chocolate, posters, advertisings, interior decoration objects, fragrances or baby products. And on closer inspection one of the most significant and meaningful messages of the artist, who was born in Ivančice but recognised and consecrated in Prague, lie exactly in these so-called “minor arts” through which the Art Nouveau draws inspiration from the Anglo-Saxon aesthetics of “Arts and Crafts”, which is aimed to enhance the craftsman’s creativity and skills as an ideal alternative to the ugliness of mechanisation and gloomy and depressing monotony of mass production.


dance alfons mucha
The Dance (a detail)


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