Date Published: 2006
My first contact with Alphonse Mucha was at a very young age, my diary had one of his artworks for the cover. I had always loved his style, yet never knew who the artist was. It was only when I happened across a print of his work in a local framing store that I found out his identity. Since then I jumped at the chance to buy this book.
Mucha specialises in a decorative, romantic style of illustration. His works evokes old world charm, mysteriousness and are often based on elemental designs (for instance his common theme of the four seasons). His style has been imitated and comes in and out of fashion frequently (for instance the Art Nouveau movement during the 1960’s was said to have been influenced by artists such as Mucha). It is unashamedly feminine – the fashion, fauna and ornamental bordering.
In this book women are the major focus. Women are represented as goddesses, youthful and full of character. They are fleshy and real looking. He also illustrates famous actresses, immortalising their performances. One of my favorites is the advertisement for the play ‘Medea’ – the horror in the actresses eyes after she has just slain her own children is incredible. Interestingly enough women are also used for advertising purposes and readers may recognise some of the brands.
Though this is the main focus of the book there are also some of his less famous works. Mucha was said to design a whole range of things – advertisements, crockery and jewellery. His ‘The Slav Epic’ gets a brief image in the forward. Many of his beautiful sketches are included in the book.
Strangely enough many of the images in this book are repeated a few times, though with different colouring. I am not sure whether this is to show different prints of the same work or whether it is the books way of filling pages.
It was hard to give a score to this book given that I am a fan of his works. There are a great deal of pages, yet I know that the books layout and its lack of design other than being a ‘picture book’ would alienate those who do not enjoy his art. It would have been good if ‘The Slav Epic’ had been shown properly, rather than his more famous, commercial art. Also, the Chinese text hampers just a tad to those who don’t speak any form of Chinese. This is a book for fans only, though undoubtedly there would be a much better chronicle of his works on the market.
♥♥½ – 2½/5