(Feature Above: Two images created by Alphonse Mucha)
Just before the forming of the Bauhaus in Germany was creating waves with Modernist designs Alfons Mucha and fellow Art Nouveau artists were designing intensely detailed and illustrious work in Europe.
Where the Modernists focused on stripping back design to its function Mucha and fellow designers were focused on adding onto old ideas of what ‘good’ design was.
Inspired by Byzantine artwork which often depicted religious figures surrounded by halos and towering murals Alfonse Mucha was rejected from a visual arts school in his youth and carried on to design some of the most visually striking works of his generation.
(Featured above: Byzantine styled artwork similar to that which would have inspired Mucha.)
He worked for actresses, theatres on paintings and advertisements and was even commissioned by the St Vitus Cathedral to paint a giant stained glass mural.
(Featured above: Mucha’s Mural in St Vitus Cathedral.)
Mucha’s work captures the spirit of the Art Nouveau movement with flowing lines and ethereal characters often draped or floating in place. Rather than drawing them as they would have traditionally been done the era preceding him Mucha added a graphic style to his characters which is so original it remains relevant today.
(Featured above: Some of Mucha’s graphic work.)
Flowers, detailed mosaic patterns and flowing cloth is often featured in Mucha’s artwork as well as beautiful women with long hair or highly ornate outfits.
Nearing the end of his career Mucha was sponsored to begin work on the Slav Epic. 20 enormous canvas paintings depicting the history of the Slavs and themes like war and religion.
(Featured above: Mucha’s Slav Epic paintings in proportion to sitting man.)
The paintings are glorious. Figures float above crowds of other characters, complimentary, subdued palettes lend softness to sometimes chaotic or frightening scenes. Skin and muscle is beautifully rendered to create strong, human, forms amongst soft landscapes and roiling cloud.
(Featured above: 2 paintings from Mucha’s Slav Epic.)
Mucha’s ability to design both the easily accessible and immediately recognisable posters of his early work and the brilliant intensely detailed monuments of the Slav Epic gain him a permanent place in design history as a master of his craft and continue to inspire designers and artists alike today.