In Quest of Beauty

Published

Alphonse Mucha, via Wikimedia Commons

Aleksandra Kurek
Writer

Currently on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the exhibition is a definite must-see for all those with an appreciation for an Art Nouveau aesthetic. ‘Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty’ is a great opportunity to see the original lithographs of many well-known posters by the Czech-born graphic artist. It is also a chance to indulge in the sheer beauty of Mucha’s colourful panels with opulent arabesques that encapsulate the female figure – now an iconic composition.

This meticulous selection of Mucha’s work has been accompanied by an array of objects from the Glasgow Museums’ collection, making it a comprehensive exhibition which accounts for the various phases in Mucha’s artistic career, while also giving it a British context. The chosen artworks effectively narrate Mucha’s artistic development, starting from his breakthrough in 1894 when he created Gismonda, his first widely recognized poster, to his return to Bohemia in 1911 to create the Slav Epic, a series large scale paintings depicting key moments from the Slavic past.

Pointing out similarities between Mucha’s work with that of British artists, such as the Glaswegian symbolist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the exhibition makes the visitors aware of the dense web of influences which underpinned nineteenth-century European art, and allowed styles to flourish across borders. Additionally, the numerous posters done by Mucha for advertisement campaigns are also shown, indicating his revolutionary philosophy which promoted a radical shift in the approach to fine art: Mucha famously advocated for a departure from art that was seen as an elitist endeavour to art that was accessible to the general public, thus making posters a form of affordable art produced in large quantities for ordinary people.

Overall, ‘In Quest of Beauty’ showcases Mucha’s pivotal role in the naming and shaping of the key features of the Art Nouveau movement while also demonstrating his far-reaching influence as seen through British regional and national variants of the style.

The exhibition can be found at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum until the 19th of February.