It’s more than a century old and from a culture halfway across the world, but the works featured in Canadian’s Citadelle Art Foundation’s exhibit “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau – Selections from the Dhawan Collection” are as relevant as ever.
Mucha’s work was largely used in advertising around the turn of the 20th century, Citadelle Art Foundation Executive Director Wendie Cook said, but modern viewers will recognize marketing techniques still used in advertising today.
“His work is very palatable for a wide range of audiences,” she said. “It’s beautiful to look at because its lithography. It’s advertising. That’s how they were advertising around the turn of the century, and it’s interesting to look at how that’s changed — the similarities and the differences.”
The Czechoslovakian’s art was at its height of popularity in 1900. Characterized by a marriage of both organic and architectural design elements, University of Minnesota Art History Professor Gabriel Weisberg said Mucha’s works were varied, expressive and seductive. His body of work was deemed “the Mucha style” before earning the title “Art Nouveau.”
Curated by Weisberg, the exhibit includes 75 of Mucha’s works, including rare original lithographs and proofs, an oil painting, a pastel, drawings, books, posters, portfolios, and ephemera. Weisberg wrote an essay for the exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition is organized into three sections: posters; books and journal illustrations; and The Slav Epic, a series of large canvas paintings depicting the history of the Slav people.
Cook said Mucha’s works make an interesting study of the time period in which they were created. Not only is it a peek into what visual communications were like for the time period, but he also painted historical figures.
And the aesthetic quality alone gives the works value, she said.
“The compositions of his work are asymmetrical so…