by Scholes, Robert
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Alphonse Mucha (1860 - 1939)
He was born in 1860 in Ivancice, Moravia, which is near the city of Brno in the modern Czech Republic. He studied art for two years in Munich and then moved to the Académie Julian in Paris. After some years of struggle, supporting himself by doing illustrations, he was asked to do a poster for a Sarah Bernhardt show, Gismonda. The poster caused a sensation, and the commissions began pouring in. After World War I he returned to Czechoslovakia and became the father of a slavic arts and crafts movement which combined elements of art nouveau with classic national themes. He worked for many years on an ambitions series of historical paintings, but he remains best known for his posters. In addition to commercial art, jewelry design, interior decoration, sculpture and stage design, Mucha experimented with lettering and calligraphy to produce excellent source material for unique typefaces. Mucha's style is virtually synonymous with French Art Nouveau, though he never accepted that designation. His work is widely available on the Web.