I’ve always loved the art nouveau period, more than the cleaner modernistic lines of art deco. But I learned things about Alphonse Mucha reading this article, that I did not know. That, for instance, he was killed while being interrogated by Nazis.
Anyway, here’s an overview of his life and work, and how he rose from near-starvation to unexpected success in partnership with the great Barnhardt.
Now I’m going to go look at the prints in my kitchen (because yes, I am a cliche) with fresh new eyes.
I like to think he was a good pal, but maybe he just needed the money. Regardless he was at the Lemercier printing house when a rush job came in. Sarah Bernhardt’s new play, Gismonda, wasn’t selling enough tickets, and the theater owner thought a snazzy poster might help sales. Unfortunately all the top illustrators in Paris were out of town, and Mucha threw himself at the job. And almost blew it – the theater wanted a simple bold poster like the style that was popular at the time – certainly not the overly intricate one Mucha delivered. The printer didn’t want to show it to the theater and the theater didn’t want to use it. But luckily Sarah Bernhardt (a lady very savvy about personal branding and marketing) saw it and loved how different it was. She took a chance on it standing out from one the poster-layered walls of Paris and made them print it. And it was a hit! They had to reprint the poster to sell to individuals who wanted a clean print. And the play became a hit as well.