Alphonse Mucha Hardcover – Jul 1 2009
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From the Inside Flap
Alfons Mucha is known largely for having originated Art Nouveau, when his poster of the actress Sarah Bernhardt became a legendary icon of the movement. Mucha went on to design hundreds of pieces in the decorative arts field, but later distanced himself from the style he pioneered, devoting his time and energy to painting. This book presents the full array of Mucha's artistic contributions-not only his posters and jewelry designs but also his design for the pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 1900 World's Fair.
About the Author
AGNES HUSSLEIN-ARCO is Director of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. JEAN LOUIS GAILLEMIN is a professor of art history at the Sorbonne in Paris and curator of the exhibition "Alphonse Mucha". MICHEL HILAIRE is Director of the Musee Fabre in Montpellier. CHRISTIANE LANGE is Director of the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book really features an artist less known and appreciated. While it includes a generous selection of posters, book illustrations and related designs, the true focus of this volume is the work he did in the years after the peak of Art Nouveau, when he embarked on a vastly ambitious cycle of works relating the history of the Slav people. For these works were monumental in scale as well as conception, and he spent the decades after his Paris fame engaged in their creation.
Here we have Mucha as a painter and muralist, the power of his design skills are put to a different purpose than the promotion of events and products. The illustrations in this book are excellent, and short of a visit to the Czech Republic, are the best look most of us will have of the encyclopedic depiction of figures and landscapes that comprise the Epic. It is a grand vision, one that is often tragic portrayed here, yet as beautiful in its way as the familiar Sarah Bernhardt posters. There is a new, subtle and melancholy use of color in the murals and tonality often replaces the linear crispness of his graphic style. These works may not be as accessible to some, but have a rich and solemn genius.
This volume does not gloss over the earlier works by any means, his jewelry, photography and other less known illustrations are here too. If you are only interested in the Paris period of his work, this might not be the best single book for you, others cover that in great detail. For an overview of his entire output, however, this is a very valuable resource, lavishly and lovingly produced, it makes a great addition to the library of any art lover.
For the first 1/5th of the book, it was a very lengthy biography. Whether it is accurate or interesting, I can't say because I didn't read it myself since I checked this out from the library before toying with the idea of buying the book. There were about three to six images to accompany the text, but the sizes range from 2 x 3inches to 3 x 4inches, which is not very big, considering how I like to see the image in full detail. For 1/8th of the book, it shows the popular prints/posters Mucha is known for, the majority of them covering the entire page. A few images are accompanied with sketches/studies (some I've never seen before) Mucha did before producing the final product while others have paragraphs of background information.
About 1/5th of the book has his oil paintings, many of which I have never seen before, most which do not have the typical style Mucha is known for (abstract organic lines, incorporation of nature, pastels... just think of his poster works). It also has background information and sketches/studies like the popular pieces section I mentioned earlier. The rest of the book has an even amount of images in regards to his photography, sketches, and non 2D related mediums. In the back is a listing of the images shown through out the book, with the the title, size, medium, date, so on and so forth, then there are about 6 pages of thumbnails not shown in the book with their descriptions. They're so tiny (about 2 x 1.5 inches big) you can't see any of the detail. I guess if you want to say that you've seen it and acknowledge its existence, it could be useful, but other than that, I don't know why you would even bother.
So, in summary, this is a very image heavy book, and show cases a portfolio with a variety of mediums Mucha mastered in. If you're looking for a book with novel Mucha pieces, this book is it! But if you're looking for iconic Mucha pieces, look elsewhere.
You see a lot in here: Mucha the illustrator, artist, interior and furniture designer, painter, jewelry and product designer and above all, one of the greatest sketch wizards of the history. My only complaint is: I think every Mucha fan out there, even though they admire and are fascinated by this sophisticated man with all his body of work, is eagerly expecting to find a large and HQ book about THE POSTERS of Mucha.
We all love him, but what seduced us the most about him isn't his furniture, it isn't his jewelry, or even his paintings: it is his world-famous poster illustrations with their imperishable beauty, elegance, and taste. This book is quite incomplete in that sense. Then again, Sarah Mucha's book is also quite incomplete, if not even more. I am curious about this artistic genius, of course. But at this stage, we all know him with every detail of his life. And it isn't all that by the way. These interminably long extracts and explanations which are going on and on about every minute detail of every minute thing about this beyond impressive body of work... Give it a rest already!
What about giving us one respectable HQ image after the other of his most famous posters like the JOB series, seasons, jewels, stars, zodiac, Sarah Bernhardt, and the very elusive, and for some reason hard-to-find, 'The Slav Epic'... in a hardcover, or at least between two covers in a poster book format? I am sure that book exists somewhere in Prague or Vienna or God-knows-where, but sometimes images speak much louder than words... I just want one book that will give me the sublime and elegant, without so many interruptions. That is it really. Not that complicated to put together.
This is a captivating book for a die-hard fan. Much bigger than Sarah Mucha's book. It look gorgeous, it has a commanding size and front cover, and it is beautiful to look at. However, until my demand is delivered and publishers finally comply, I will never give another Mucha book 5 stars, no matter how 'great' they may be.