Thursday, October 5

Why i love Mucha

the following is the conclusion of an epic paper i wrote about my trip to Europe this summer. Thought i'd post it because i've been thinking a lot about it lately.


Our time in Prague went by in a blur, and before I knew it, it was our last full day in Europe. Katy and I had decided that because our first jaunt to the Mucha Museum was so short, we would spent our last day there drawing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Seeing the Mucha Museum was my biggest reason for going to Europe. I was not going to leave knowing I could have spent more time there and never did. We walked around that little museum and sketched and browsed and absorbed for over 5 hours with a lunch break in the middle. If it wasn’t for the stuffiness, heat, our tired arms and legs, and the fact that we were already exhausted, I could have stayed until closing! I admire him so much, for his unfailing graphic sense, his elegance, his sensitivity astounds me. Yet he could render out a figure as well as any old master.
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I respect Mucha both as an artist, and as a human being. He is one of those individuals that just had too much to say and do to keep still. The man simply never stopped. He worked because he wanted to, and because he needed to. He just had no time to waste with so many pictures and ideas crowding his mind! His work on the Slav Epic, a series of twenty enormous paintings would be enough, alone to occupy someone for their lifetime. He pondered and toyed with the idea for years, and once he finally got down to starting them, it took Mucha 18 more years to finish them all. “…the Slav Epic is an astonishing display of Mucha’s stamina and dedication, marrying his talent for historical painting, his compelling use of symbolism and his mastery of the flat presentation and muted colors of his Decorative works. If he had done nothing more, this work should forever free him of the accusation of being a ‘mere poster painter’. (Mucha, 17-19)
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Mucha was a success in every sense of the word, because of his devotion to what he loved…his art, his family, and his country. It took him a lifetime to sort it all out, but his heart was always in a place where he desired to be of service, he desired to do something different, and he never slowed down. I don’t know what it is like to have that kind of drive…it seems like every individual I have truly expressed admiration for has been someone very unlike me. To say that I came away from this journey into whole new realms of creativity and thought unchanged would be a terrible fallacy. My mind reeled for weeks after coming home…in a way it still is; which would explain some of the ramblings in this paper. I find, with myself, there is a fine line between being so inspired by an artist I can’t wait to start painting, and having so much admiration for someone’s work I get discouraged, throw out the usual “why bother?” and go sulk in a corner. Happily, I experienced the former a great degree more than the latter inclination.

Alphonse Mucha was once quoted saying: “The aim of my work was never to destroy…but to build bridges.” And he lived by that; no matter what trials he might have been enduring. “At the end of the 1930s as he looked back upon a life span of nearly 80 years, the Decorative art that had been the font of his fame and glory had all but disappeared from the public scene, the patriotic values that he held so passionately had become an anachronism and the great Epic that had been the capstone of his life lay rolled up in a dank museum basement, homeless and largely forgotten. His personal misfortune was compounded by he knowledge that his nation seemed on the cusp of losing its newly-won freedom, apparently destined to return to German rule of a Nazi hue and to the agony of another great war.” I read this and I ask, what would anyone else do in a situation like this? What would I do? “At that moment he was engaged in studies for his final project, a monumental and celebratory triptych, The Age of Reason, The Age of Wisdom, and The Age of Love. It was the ultimate expression of the benevolent and optimistic faith that guided his life…The circle of Mucha’s loving vision had enlarged, undiminished by the disappointments of the years, beyond the Mucha Woman, beyond his beloved people, to embrace all mankind.”
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(This is the same excerpt i have a few posts down...)
He built bridges, and that’s what I want to do. I was inspired by individuals who tried to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to celebrate darkness and beauty; death and life; joy and sorrow. We weren’t created to do without one or the other. To forget that there is love and bliss to be had in this fallen world is to fool yourself into the belief that there is nothing worth living for. To ignore the existence of hardship and strife is to cheat yourself of the pure joy of being joyful! Mucha found this balance and flourished within it. As an artist, that is what I so desperately hope to do. And only time can tell whether or not I will someday build bridges of my own.
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(all quotes from Mucha by Sarah Mucha)

1 comment:

sarah said...

mm hmm.

yup yup yup.