Posted by: marymarthatours | September 18, 2012

Alphonse Mucha Exhibition at the National Czech & Slovak Museum

clip_image002

One weekend in August, my husband Jess and I took our grandson Alex and his fiancé Ashly on a very special road trip. Alex is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where he majored in furniture design. We learned in May that he is also a huge fan of the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.

Ivancice, Kirk from cs, ccasa3.0

Alphonse Mucha was born in 1860 in Ivancice, Moravia (now in the Czech Republic). Jess and I visited Ivancice in 2006 with Martha. We had hired a driver to take us there from Prague where the three of us were staying for a few days after a tour of Slovakia.   The town of Ivancice is lovely and hosts a wonderful small museum about Mucha’s early life there.  The church in this photo  (by ‘Kirk from cs’) is depicted in a number of his works.

Moravsky Krumlov chateau, Urbanhare, ccasa3.0

Nearby is the town of Moravsky Krumlov, which at that time was home to Mucha’s amazing series of paintings called the Slav Epic. These 20 huge canvasses, some measuring over 18’ X 24’, were painted between 1910 and 1928, and portray the history of the Slavic people. I don’t think any photographs can convey the majesty and emotion of these paintings, and I’m so thankful to have seen them in person in the chateau in Moravsky Krumlov (seen in this photo by ‘Urbanhare’).  Amidst great controversy, the paintings are now being moved to Prague.                                     

clip_image006clip_image008

Mucha in his studio working on “The Coronation of the Serbian Tsar Stefan”, 1920

While they may have been his masterpiece, the paintings of the Slav Epic are not Mucha’s best known works in the United States. He is better known here for his advertising posters of Sarah Bernhardt, other posters, advertisements, book illustrations and works created in what was once called “the Mucha style”, and is now known as “Art Nouveau”.

clip_image010   clip_image012   clip_image014

Posters from 1895 to 1909

It was to see these posters and other works covering Mucha’s entire artistic career, that Alex and Ashly joined us for a trip to the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After being severely damaged in the floods of 2008, the Museum has been rebuilt and expanded on a new higher site close to its former location.

clip_image016clip_image018

Ashly and Alex, exterior and lobby area of the National Czech & Slovak Museum

To celebrate its reopening in July 2012, the Museum has mounted an extensive exhibition of over 200 pieces of Alphonse Mucha’s works, including paintings, photographs, posters, jewelry, and book illustrations. As the promotional flyer says, “Not since 1999 has an exhibit of this size and caliber appeared in the U.S.”.

We had only a limited amount of time for our Sunday afternoon visit, but we spent about three hours in the exhibit. We worked our way slowly through the chronologically arranged display, reading all the descriptive information and stopping at every painting and poster. Since there weren’t many people there, we were able to both stand back to get an overview and move up close to study the details. I think my favorite pieces were a painting of Mucha’s daughter Jaroslava as a child, a beautiful Art Nouveau necklace of gold and small gems, the poster designed for the Moravian Teachers’ Choir, and the almost Celtic illustrations and lettering of the book “Le Pater”, Mucha’s artistic response to the Lord’s Prayer.

clip_image020

The Moravian Teachers’ Choir Poster, 1911

Now I’m really hoping that Martha and Collie will come to Minnesota for a visit before the exhibition closes at the end of December. I want to go back to Cedar Rapids for another visit. Hopefully, the next time I’ll even have some time to see the rest of the Museum.

(by Mary)

National Czech and Slovak Museum information:

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 AM – 5 PM; Sun., noon – 4 PM

Admission fees: Members free; Adults $12; Seniors $10; Students and active military $5; children 6-12 $3; 5 and under free.

For more about the 2008 flood and Museum restoration, click here.

Photograph of Mucha and all images of Mucha works from Wikipedia Commons where they are listed as in the public domain in the United States because the copyright expired with the life of the author plus 70 years.

Photo of Ivancice: copyright Kirk from cs and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons attribution-share alike 3.0 license.

Photo of Chateau at Moravksy Krumlov: copyright Urbanhare and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons attribution-share alike 3.0 license.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hi, Mary –

    It’s great to learn about this museum. Fascinating. Thanks! My favorite smaller museum in the Twin Cities is the spectacular Russian Museum on I 35 at Diamond Lake Road. The architecture alone is worth going for. I will not be surprised at all if you have been there. I also need to run over to the Swedish Museum to see their new tapestries which I’ve heard are beautiful.

    I’m sure you know that Joyce’s surgery went very well.

    Warm Regards, Wendy Andersen Postier

    Sent from my iPhone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: