Monday, May 12, 2008

Leilani; Mucha

Although Mucha is thought of as a ‘Art Nouveau’ designer he has never actually associated himself the movement. He disliked its name, arguing that art was eternal and therefore could never be merely “noveau.” His art, however, was certainly influenced by the spirit of the time, a force which fed his passionate convictions on the purpose of art.

The most important principle of the Art Nouveau movement was a desire to get rid of the distinctions between high and low art. For many artists the essential thing was for art to affect and unify the lives of the people, not just in expensive oil paintings adorning walls of the affluent, but in the essential objects of their daily lives—their homes, furnishings, cups and saucers, advertisements, wall hangings—everything from door handles to lamp posts. Even purely functional objects mass produced should be shaped by the decorative powers of art. Most Art Nouveau artists, Mucha in particular, demonstrated an astonishingly wide range of artistic interests (from posters and paintings to lottery tickets, jewellery, police uniforms, designs for money, stamps, wall hangings, ect)

What sets Mucha apart from almost all other artists in the “movement,” however, was his commitment to Slavic culture. He was deeply convinced, no doubt on the basis of his own experience, that art should not concern itself with what was merely new but should develop itself out of old ethnic and national traditions.

Muchas works based on a strong composition, sensuous curves from nature, decorative elements and natural colors. The colours are generally understated, and the effect is carried by the superb linear design and the harmony established between that and the human figure. Mucha's portraits of women and girls typically locate them in a design strongly evocative of nature or natural patterning, and there is nothing about them of the high-society decadence. Most of them are robust country girls, brimming with health and natural vigour and conveying an inborn self-confidence and directness which has no malicious intent. It's not surprising his designs were so successful as advertisements for a largely urban population.

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