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Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts exhibits works by Czech-born artist Alphonse Mucha
Alphonse Mucha, Language of Flowers: Plate 35 from 'Album de la Décoration', 1900. Colour Lithograph © Mucha Trust 2015.

NORWICH.- The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich announces a new exhibition Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty.

The Sainsbury Centre is one of the UK’s principal places for the study and display of Art Nouveau. Following on from the 2012 exhibition, The First Moderns: Art Nouveau from Nature to Abstraction and 2014 Sense and Sensuality: Art Nouveau 1890-1914 this exhibition continues the Sainsbury Centre’s continued dedication to the study and presentation of the style that, more than any other, inaugurated the push towards Modern design.

Czech-born Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) is one of the most celebrated artists of the fin-de-siècle, and a founding figure in the development of Art Nouveau. He rose to international fame incredibly quickly, mainly with his elegant designs for decorative panels, and stunning advertising posters, including those designed for actress Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest stage personality of her era and an influential figure in Mucha’s life. Perhaps his poster Gismonda, designed in 1895 for Bernhardt, was the key to his rapid rise. It caused a sensation in Paris, with its unusually tall format, restrained colours and elegantly flowing outlines. Within a year of its appearance, ‘Le style Mucha’ became synonymous with the phenomenon that was becoming Art Nouveau.

Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty explores the work of the artist, through the theme of beauty, which was the core principle underlying his artistic philosophy, whilst also highlighting his contribution to the Art Nouveau style. The exhibition also recognises the fact that Mucha considered himself a painter, and shows the way his work changed as he came to embrace painting more exclusively, and how he sought to develop a Modern Czech style following his return to his native Czechoslovakia.

The show includes over 65 works drawn primarily from the collection of the Mucha Trust, focusing on drawings, paintings, photographs and iconic posters. Alongside these extraordinary works are masterpieces by artists such as Larche, Lalique Fouquet and Gallé, from the Sainsbury Centre’s own renowned Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau. These latter works provide a context for Mucha, and explain the extraordinary flourishing of the decorative arts in the period.

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