Alphonse Mucha, 24 July 1860, (Ivančice, Czech Republic); died 14 July 1939, (Prague, Czech Republic)
Bold use of color; innovative use of perspective; preoccupation with geometric shapes and interchange between light and shade; unusual composition
Mucha was famous for his commercial posters, which had a wide audience, but he also worked in a variety of other media, including furniture, jewelry, and theatrical sets. He mostly worked in Vienna and Paris, but was also in Chicago, where he taught at the Art Institute, from 1904 to 1910. There, he introduced his interpretation of the "new art" to a United States audience. The densely patterned posters epitomize the Art Nouveau interest in natural forms, decoration, and a rejection of the anonymity of mechanical production.
He worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery, then in 1879 moved to Vienna to work for a leading Viennese theatrical design company, while informally furthering his artistic education.
The first of Mucha’s decorative panels were The Seasons (1896), a series of four panels representing the theme of the four seasons. The series proved very popular and it was followed by other popular series including The Flowers (1898), The Arts (1898), The Times of the Day (1899), The Precious Stones (1900) and The Moon and the Stars (1902). These panels illustrate all the typical qualities of the Mucha poster – the beautiful women with suggestive gestures, the decorative use of flowers and flowing hair, the subtle yet striking colours – all combine to create a compelling harmony of vision whose intention is to inspire and elevate the viewer.