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Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty

— April 2015

Associated media

Alphonse Mucha, Reverie (1897)

'The aim of art is to celebrate beauty'

Alphonse Mucha

 ‘Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty’ premieres at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth, from Wednesday 1 April to Sunday 27 September 2015. After a gap of almost 15 years, The Mucha Foundation returns to the UK to create this specially commissioned exhibition in partnership with Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.

Czech master of Art Nouveau and the quintessential artist of fin-de-siècle Paris, Alphonse Mucha’s distinctive style explored feminine beauty through poster design, magazines and, even, baby food packaging. The opulent aesthetic of the Russell-Cotes, full of exquisite items from around the globe, offers the perfect backdrop for Alphonse Mucha’s imagery of beauty, fantasy and elegance.

In Quest of Beauty showcases key aspects of Mucha’s work in three sections:

‘Women – Icons and Muses’ features his earlier commercial work and includes Gismonda (1894), portraying his muse, the actress Sarah Bernhardt, for whom he designed his very first poster.

 ‘Le Style Mucha – A Visual Language’ explores his change in approach following the advent of modernism with works such as Reverie (1897/8), pictured above.

The final section ‘Beauty – The Power of Inspiration’ highlights his painting Song of Bohemia (1918) and explores the latter stages of his career as he moved back to Czech lands in 1910.

John and Sarah Mucha, Alphonse Mucha’s grandson and his wife and the Directors of The Mucha Foundation, said:

The Mucha Foundation and family are delighted to present this exhibition in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. We have enjoyed the opportunity offered by the sumptuous ambience and inspiring collections of the Russell-Cotes to explore links between Mucha's work and philosophy and the contemporary Aesthetic movement in Britain.  We hope that the combination of beautiful works of art in a wonderful environment will be both appealing and interesting. In addition, as Dorset residents, we are delighted to be able to share Mucha's work with our local community – we hope you will enjoy the exhibition.

Sue Hayward, Museum Manager, said:

We’re thrilled to be working with The Mucha Foundation to host a collection that’s not normally seen outside the big international museums.  Our exhibition features Mucha’s masterpiece Gismonda, the very first public declaration of Art Nouveau.  With the publication of this landmark poster of super-celebrity actress, Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha’s sensational artwork ignited the Art Nouveau revolution that took Europe by storm at the end of the 19th century.  It also includes many of Mucha’s distinctive, sensual designs that became synonymous with the international Art Nouveau style, and are undeniably influential in design today.

Law firm and sponsors of the exhibition, Humphries Kirk, worked with the Mucha Family since before the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to preserve the Mucha Collection, at one time under significant threat, and the artistic heritage of Alphonse Mucha for current and future generations.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum’s new exhibition,Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty’ opens on Wednesday 1 April to Sunday 27 September 2015.  Entrance to the Russell-Cotes includes the exhibition and costs £5, with Gift Aid. Concessions are available for groups of 10+ people – book in advance on 01202 451820.

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