Thursday, September 24, 2009

research: Alphonse Mucha

This poster by Alphonse Mucha is the poster I am choosing to re-create.

Alphonse Mucha, poster for Job cigarette papers, 1898.

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
Mucha grew up in small village of Ivancice located in the current Czech Republic. He gained a reputation in Paris around the age of 27 for his strong illustration skills. According to Meggs History of Graphic Design Mucha was at the Lemercier's printing company late one night correcting prints for a friend who was on holiday. The firms manager burst into the room where Mucha was and demanded he create a new poster for the actress "Sarah Bernhardt" since she was displeased with the first one they pitched to her. Since Mucha was the only artist there, he received the commission. From this day on Mucha's work was praised, and was considered Art Nouveau, even though Mucha believed that art was timeless and could never be new.
Mucha's work became dominated mainly by a "central female figure surrounded by stylized forms derived from plants and flowers, Moravian folk art, Byzantine mosaics, and even magic and the occult." (Meggs History of Graphic Design).

The poster for "JOB Cigarette Papers" is appealing to emotions, otherwise known as Pathos. The iconic women primarily used in Mucha's work is an idealized sensual character. The poster projects a feeling of sensuality, lust, and romanticism. According to Aristotle on Pathos, "we naturally bend in the direction of what is advantageous to us, what serves our interests or the interests of any group we believe ourselves a part of." In Muchas' poster he has taken the perfectly idealized women and staged her with this cigarette paper, making her position an interest to the viewer because they idolize her perfect form and beauty. This can also be ethos, because we see the "perfect" women smoking a cigarette. She almost covers the actual name of the company creating an interesting hierarchy, but the name "JOB" is still visible due to the contour of the letter forms and size. The woman is dominating the composition, and her hair dominates most of her; however her facial expression is framed quite nicely in a casing of Mucha's so called "Macaroni Hair". This is important because her face tells us a lot about how she is "feeling", which appeals to us as a viewer and how we relate to her.

The intended audience in this piece is established older men and women of that time period that smoked cigarettes, and the poster was viewed in urban settings in or around markets where wealthy people would occupy. In 1898 cigarettes had to be hand rolled and Mucha has given this element much appeal by blending the smoke in with the decorative elements of the poster. By doing this he is implying that "beautiful people" will buy our cigarette paper and look like this when they smoke them; much like a cigarette add today by displaying the "beautiful person" smoking. The poster is evocative of Art Nouveau due to its highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms, and it is considered to be one of first few pieces of art that were reflective of Art Nouveau (new art).

No comments: