Gismonda poster | Alphonse Mucha | 1894
The name Alphonse Mucha always seemed to me like it belonged to an African-American born in a French colony. I couldn’t be more mistaken: Alfons Maria Mucha was born in the Czech Republic, where he began with his studies until he migrated to Paris.
In the French city, Mucha devoted himself into publicity: he created posters, advertising and, many times, he would illustrate books. Painting was also his passion, but he couldn’t make money out of it.
In 1894, Mucha entered in a printer where they were looking for artists to create a poster for the play Gismonda, in which Sarah Bernhard was acting. In that time, Bernhardt was the most famous actress of the city. Mucha accepted the challenge and produced the Poster of Gismonda, an immediate success. The style of the work was something never seen before and, in no time, Mucha became known throughout the country.
The artist continue to work this way for different advertisings, but it was in the Universal Exhibition of Paris, in 1900, where the “Mucha style” spread internationally. Painter from all over the world began to mimic him and the expansion became unstoppable…
A new movement was born: the art nouveau or “new art”, also called “modernism”.
Just with one work, the artist sowed the seed of a movement that later will influence several decorative artists in fields such as architecture (Antonio Gaudí), painting (Gustav Klimt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec), furniture design, ceramics and glassware.