Page 1

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page B


12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page C

Cover image: The Moon and the Stars: study for The Moon, 1902 Ink and watercolor on paper Decorative panel by Alphonse Mucha Image courtesy of the Mucha Foundation.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 1




Slovo is published biannually by the National Czech & Slovak



Museum & Library. The editor welcomes research articles and essays written for a popular


audience that address Czech

Alphonse Mucha: Visionary Designer, Epic Artist By Anna M. Dvorˇák, Mucha author and historian


A New Spring: Czech Art Nouveau Architecture and Applied Arts By Mariana Holá, curator for design at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague


& Slovak history and culture. Please address inquiries to Editor, Slovo, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

Publisher: Gail Naughton

Eternal Seductress: The Enduring Appeal of Art Nouveau By Alice Jurow, Art Deco author and lecturer


Editor: Sher Jasperse Curator: Stefanie Kohn Librarian: David Muhlena Design: WDG Communications Inc.

Preserving Mucha’s Legacy: Jir˘í Mucha and the Mucha Foundation By Geraldine Mucha, composer and Mucha family member


EXHIBIT SHOWCASE Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939): Inspirations of Art Nouveau Introduction by Tomoko Sato, Mucha Foundation curator




Slovo = Word

Slovo is available as a benefit to members of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Individual memberships: $35 for one year. For information, write to the NCSML, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, IA, 52404; call (319) 362-8500; or visit our website at

ISSN 1545-0082 Copyright © 2012 National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 2

from the PU BL ISH ER

Gail Naughton, President/CEO of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, at the Mucha home in Prague with Geraldine Mucha, the artist’s daughter-in-law, and Sue Plotz Olson, then-chair of the NCSML board, in October 2011.

Letters to the Editor We encourage discussion of the issues and stories presented in Slovo. Please send your letters to: Editor, Slovo 1400 Inspiration Place SW Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404 Or e-mail to:

2 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

FROM THE PUBLISHER The installation of an exhibition on Alphonse Mucha at the NCSML is the realization of a long-held dream. When we started talking about what exhibition would be worthy to celebrate the opening of the new museum, it was first on our list. For several months we worked with John (grandson of Alphonse) and Sarah Mucha, who head the Mucha Foundation, on arranging a major Mucha exhibition, the first in the United States since 1999. Nearly two years of effort will culminate with the opening of Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau in July. In the course of the project, NCSML Curator Stefanie Kohn went to Prague to meet with Tomoko Sato, the curator for the Mucha Foundation collection, to discuss the theme and choose the pieces for the exhibit. When Stefanie came home, she positively bubbled with the story of meeting John and Sarah for lunch at the Mucha home. Sitting at the kitchen table, she marveled at eating off a table with a top painted by the artist. “This should be in a museum,” she remembers gasping. She was able to choose several pieces for the exhibit from his personal possessions. It’s these types of objects that will make this exhibition unique. While his lush posters and varied expressions of Art Nouveau are enough to make any museum-goer ecstatic, the personal story of Mucha’s Moravian roots, his family, his photography and his devotion to the Slavic peoples make it even more memorable. When I was in Prague in October 2011, my husband Denny and I, along with Sue Plotz Olson, then the chair of the NCSML board, and her husband Ron, were invited to tea by Geraldine Mucha, the daughter-in-law of Alphonse and mother of John, at the Mucha home on Hradcˇanské námeˇstí. It is one of those memories I will always cherish. Ninety-four years young, Geraldine baked cookies and poured tea as we sat by the harmonium from Mucha’s studio. We shared stories and looked at the works covering almost every inch of the walls. He was a tortured soul, she said, who always sought to be known for his fine art, but who succeeded so extraordinarily with his poster art that he was never taken seriously [in his own mind] as a “real” artist. The crowning work of his career, the Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), was a magnificent outcome of his quest for recognition — for himself and the Slavic people. While we are not able to have the 20 enormous works comprised in this masterpiece hanging in our museum gallery, the exhibit will include a projection of the epic on a large screen, making as realistic an experience as is possible outside of Prague, where the Slav Epic was recently unveiled in a new public exhibition. This issue of Slovo serves as a commemorative catalog of the Mucha exhibition, which will be on display in the United States until December 31, 2012, only at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. We truly hope you enjoy this extraordinary exhibition. On the occasion of the triumphant opening of the new museum and library on July 14, 2012, there could hardly be a more perfect expression of our mission of inspiring people of all backgrounds to connect to Czech and Slovak history and culture.

CONTRIBUTORS Anna M. Dvor˘ák (Alphonse Mucha: Visionary Designer, Epic Artist) was born in Moravia, in former Czechoslovakia. After graduating from the Arts College in Brno, she illustrated children books and designed theater posters. Since 1964, she has lived in Durham, North Carolina, where she earned a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the dissertation, “Alphonse Mucha: Book Illustrations and Mural Paintings.” Dvorˇák further detailed Mucha’s contributions in Alphonse Mucha: The Complete Graphic Works (London: Academy Editions, 1980), Mucha’s Figures Décoratives (New York: Dover Publications, 1981) and the exhibition catalog Alphonse Mucha: Paris 1900: Le Pater (Paris: Somogy Editions d l’Art, 2001). While working at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, she pursued for nearly 20 years the idea of bringing a major traveling exhibition of Mucha’s works to the United States; this goal was realized with the exhibit, Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1998), for which she contributed three essays to the catalog. Mariana Holá (A New Spring: Czech Art Nouveau Architecture and Applied Arts) was born in Prague and studied art history at Charles University, where her graduation thesis was on the topic, “Architectural Photography as the Means of Promotion of a Modern Architecture in Czechoslovakia 1918-1948.” She is currently studying for her Ph.D. at Charles University. Since 2012, she has been curator for design at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. Her areas of specialization include Czech architecture, applied arts, design and photography of the first half of the 20th century in the wider cultural, social and international context. Holá has published papers on modern architecture and photography, architectural photography and design in the Czech lands. She has also participated in research projects dedicated to the theater architecture of Central Europe and Czech visual art in the period 1980-2005. Alice Jurow (Eternal Seductress: The Enduring Appeal of Art Nouveau) has a long association with the Art Deco Society of California as an administrator, board member and journal editor, but professes a great fondness for many


12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 3

artistic movements. She wrote the foreword for the book Art Nouveau by Camilla de la Bedoyere and has published articles in a number of journals. Jurow has also lectured on art, architecture and fashion for Art Deco societies around the world. She holds degrees in aesthetic studies and architecture from the University of California and lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and enormous cat. Geraldine Mucha née Thomsen (Preserving Mucha’s Legacy: Jirˇí Mucha and the Mucha Foundation) is a Scottish composer of Orcadian descent. She was born in London on July 5, 1917, and studied composition and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. She met and married Jirˇí Mucha, son of the artist Alphonse Mucha, in 1941 and returned to Prague with him in 1945. She has set many songs to music and written many chamber compositions. Mucha continues to live and compose in Prague. Tomoko Sato (Introduction to the exhibit, Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau) is curator of the Mucha Foundation. Born and raised in Japan, she has lived since 1979 in the United Kingdom, where she received her B.A. in the history of art and architecture from Reading University and M.A. in art gallery and museum studies from Manchester University. After curatorial training at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, she worked at the Barbican Art Gallery in London as exhibition organizer and then curator. While there she curated the first retrospective of Alphonse Mucha presented by the Mucha Foundation (1993), as well as wide-ranging exhibitions studying art, design and photography of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her publications include catalogs for the exhibitions, Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930 (Lund Humphries, London, 1991), and The Wilde Years: Oscar Wilde and the Art of His Time (Philip Wilson, London, 2000), and the article, “Photography — the Other Side of Mucha,” in Alphonse Mucha (Prestel, Munich, Berlin, London and New York, 2009).

Slovo | 3

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 4


Alphonse Mucha:


By Anna M. Dvor˘ák

Fig. 1: Self-portrait with Palette, c. 1907. Oil on canvas, 44 x 30 cm (17 3/8 x 11 7/8 in.)

Alphonse Mucha, or Alfons Maria Mucha as he is known in his native country, is one of the few Czech artists whose name is familiar to wide audiences both in Europe and the United States. Born in 1860 in the small Moravian town of Ivancˇice, Mucha [Fig.1] became famous literally overnight in Paris at the end of 1894, when he designed the Gismonda, his first poster for Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous French actress of the time. Both at the turn of the century and in subsequent years, his name was synonymous with the French Art Nouveau, and while his most popular works have always been the posters and decorative panels (panneux décoratifs) which he created between 1895 and 1905, he was also an unusually versatile designer, a gifted and innovative illustrator, a remarkable teacher, a competent photographer, and a painter who hoped to be remembered not for the “fashionable vagaries” that were in such demand, but above all for his murals and monumental paintings. Mucha always claimed that chance, which he perceived as fate, played an important part in his life. All the major developments or changes in his career were profoundly influenced by fortuitous encounters with three widely disparate patrons who recognized his talent and, by their support, enabled him to develop it in a new direction. One of six children of a court usher, he loved to draw as soon as he could crawl and was very musical, but he was an indifferent student, and when he was not accepted at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, his future as an artist was far from certain. After he was fired from a job as a court clerk in Ivancˇice, he secured a short apprenticeship at a Viennese firm designing theater decorations. There he learned to paint on large canvases, and life in the capital city exposed him to works by Hans Makart and other fashionable artists of the time. When his employment in Vienna came to a sudden end and Mucha was unwillingly returning to Moravia, he met by chance his first patron, Count Eduard Belasi, who employed him to restore several family portraits and paintings and create murals for a castle in Hrušovany as well as for Emmahof, a newly built château near Mikulov. A recommendation by a visiting professor from the Munich Academy decided Mucha’s future as an artist; in 1885 Count Belasi offered him a stipend to study in Munich. According to the records of the academy, Mucha actually did not pay his tuition and was not listed as a regular student; nevertheless, in 1887 he submitted there as his final student project his first work destined for the United States — an altar painting of Saints Cyril and Methodius, commissioned by emigrants from Ivancˇice for the Catholic church in Pisek, North Dakota [Fig. 2]. In 1888, Count Belasi’s continuing patronage enabled Mucha to study in Paris, where he finally came in touch with the latest art movements. A year later the financial support was terminated, and like other young artists Mucha had to support himself. Fig. 2: Design for Altarpiece with Saints Cyril and Methodius for the church of Saint John Nepomucene in Pisek, North Dakota. Oil on canvas, 85 x 45.5 cm (33 ½ x 18 in.). Collection of Jan Pen˘áz

4 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Images courtesy of the Mucha Foundation, except where noted otherwise.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 5

He was saved from penury by his talent and exceptional draftsmanship as an illustrator of books and magazine articles. His earliest drawings, including the illustrations for the prestigious Scènes et épisodes de l’histoire d’Allemagne by Seignobos [Fig. 3], reflected the influence of established artists like Meissonier and Doré. His own personal style began to be noticeable in the charming and imaginative illustrations for Xavier Marmier’s Les Contes des grand-mères, for which he received an Honorable Mention at the Salon. Ilsée, princesse de Tripoli by Robert de Flers, published in 1897, became Mucha’s most complete statement in the Art Nouveau style, while Le Pater, the illustrated Lord’s Prayer exhibited with many other designs at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, combined all his virtuosity in decorative design with monochrome figural scenes that pointed to his ties with the Symbolists. Documents décoratifs (1902) and Figures décorative (1905) were textbooks for designers that summed up his complex achievements as a decorative artist in the new style [Fig.4].

‘The prince of poster artists’ The patronage of Sarah Berhardt, the most admired French actress of the time, brought Mucha his fame as a poster designer. During the Christmas holidays of 1894, the publisher Lemercier asked him to deliver in a few days a new poster design for Sarah Berhardt’s theatrical production, Gismonda. Mucha created a design so unusual and so unlike other posters on public display around the city that it charmed both the famous actress and the Parisian public. He portrayed Gismonda on her way to church on Easter Sunday, dressed in rich Byzantine garments and holding a palm branch in her hand. It was the first of Mucha’s posters designed in much more subdued coloring than was used by other poster artists including Chéret, and their pale, elongated shape made them stand out so clearly from their surroundings that they were called “white windows” [Fig. 5]. Gismonda marked the beginning of Mucha’s long cooperation with Bernhardt in her theater productions; he created seven posters for her and cooperated on a number of designs for scenery and costumes. His fame increased with many additional posters in the Art Nouveau style, promoting all kinds of merchandise, as well as series of panneaux décoratifs without text, which became a popular part of inexpensive interior decoration. They introduced a typical “Mucha woman,” innocently seductive, with extravangantly flowing hair [Fig.6]. In 1900, at the World Exhibition in Paris, Mucha exhibited a great number of his works, including designs for jewelry and sculpture, and decorated with murals the pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both the Le Pater and the murals from the history of the Southern Slavs received considerable critical acclaim and were instrumental in Mucha’s decision to seek recognition as a serious painter employing his art in service of nationalistic and humanistic ideals. He began planning an epic series of large paintings from the history of various Slavic nations, and since he did not want to continue in decorative design and did not have any financial reserves, he decided to follow the example of Sarah Bernhardt and earn the funds for his monumental project in America. On February 26, 1904, he sailed for the first time for New York. This trip was followed by a number of others, and his entire American experience was described in a voluminous correspondence that was faithfully preserved by Mucha’s young wife, Maruška.

Fig. 3: Mort de Frédéric Barberousse, c. 1894. Illustration from Scènes et épisodes de l’histoire d’ Allemande by Charles Seignobos

Fig. 4: Documents décoratifs, Plate 29, 1902. Color lithograph, 46 x 33 cm (17 1/4 x 13 in.)

Slovo | 5

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 6

Fig. 5: Poster for Gismonda, 1894. Color lithograph, 216 x 74.2 cm (85 x 29 1/8 in.)

In America, newspapers welcomed Mucha as “ the prince of poster artists,” and if he had been willing to make a living by decorative design, his work would have had considerable earning power. Unfortunately, he wanted to be recognized as a serious painter and at first refused all other commissions. He painted portraits of several wealthy patrons, but since he did not want to emulate Sargent and was not able to paint in his own decorative style in oils, his career as a portrait painter was not very successful. On his repeated trips to America, he was eventually forced to supplement his income by designs for magazines, and his main income came from teaching at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and the Chicago Art Institute.

Monumental ambitions In 1908, Mucha achieved his greatest professional and commercial success with the complete design of the interior of the new German Theater in New York, but his cooperation with the actress Leslie Carter was a financial fiasco. By then it was clear that his plans for a series of monumental paintings known as the Slav Epic depended on finding an understanding and generous patron. Mucha found his patron in Charles Richard Crane (1858-1939), a millionaire industrialist from Chicago, an educated Slavophile and a friend of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, later the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic. Mucha painted portraits of Crane’s two daughters, portraying Josephine as the Slavic goddess Slavia, and shared with him his vision for an extensive series aimed at glorifying the Slavic history. In January of 1910, Crane accepted his proposal and agreed to support it financially. Together, they decided to present the finished series to the City of Prague as a gift, under the condition that the city would build a special building for it. Eventually, Mucha learned that unselfish work for the nation was a thankless task. The Slav Epic was typical of his sincere and at times naive patriotic zeal; like many expatriate Czechs before and after him, he loved his country all the more because he did not live an ordinary, everyday life there. He did not realize that over the years the goals of the younger Czech artists had changed, and that they saw him as an outsider whose style and ideals were passé. When he returned to Bohemia and settled with his family at the castle at Zbiroh to work on the Slav Epic, the Czech art critics were vocal about their disdain for his past decorative work, and the artists were furious about his offer to decorate single-handedly the newly built Municipal House in Prague. In the end, Mucha decorated only the Lord Mayor’s salon, which has remained a veritable jewel of interior design [Fig. 7]. In 1910, Mucha was 50 years old and planned to finish the 20 canvases of the Slav Epic in five years; actually, the work took 18 years, and at the time of his death in 1939 the last painting was not yet finished to his satisfaction. One reason was the unusually large dimensions of the canvases; seven measured 26.6 x 29 feet, and the smaller ones 14.4 x 13.3 feet and 15.7 x 13.3 feet [Fig. 8]. Fig. 6: Zodiac, 1896. Color lithograph, 65.7 x 48.2 cm (25 ¾ x 19 in.) 6 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 7

Painted in tempera with smaller parts in oils, they were extremely effective and proved unexpectedly durable. Mucha approached the series as a literary work, dedicating five paintings to allegorical themes, five to religion, five to warfare and five to culture. Ten were Czech historical episodes, and 10 scenes were from the history of other Slavic nations. All the details were based on careful research and consultations with eminent historians, as well as on a number of field trips with sketch books and a camera. Conceived over the span of 18 years, the paintings reflect considerable stylistic differences, from an overtly symbolist approach [Fig. 9] to scenes closer to history painting [Fig. 10]. In 1919-1921, when Mucha exhibited the first 11 canvases at the Klementinum in Prague and then at the Chicago Art Institute and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, he hoped that they would be both a national and a personal triumph. The reaction to his work from the Czech art community could not have been more different. Even though in Prague the public had nothing but praise for the paintings, critics accused Mucha of artistic shallowness and denounced the Epic as a “sugary monstrosity.” At the two American venues, however, where 600,000 people came to see the exhibitions, the critics praised the series as the greatest works in their class since the 16th century in Italy. Following the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic, Mucha often engaged his talent in the service of his country. He designed stamps and bank notes, posters with girls in folk costumes, and a stained glass window in St.Vitus Cathedral in Prague. He painted a number of beautiful oils with symbolic connotations [Fig. 11], and planned a series of paintings concerning not only his homeland but all of mankind. During his life and after his death a few canvases of the Slav Epic were periodically exhibited, but the majority were usually stored under poor conditions. In 1963 they found a home in the small town of Moravský Krumlov, from where they were finally brought to Prague to await the final decision about their permanent location.

Fig. 7: Interior of the Lord Mayor’s Salon at the Municipal House in Prague, 1910-11

Fig. 8: Mucha sitting at the exhibition of the first 11 paintings of the Slav Epic at the Klementinum, Prague, 1919

Slovo | 7

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 8

Fig 11: Woman with a Burning Candle, 1933. Oil on canvas, 78 x 70 cm (30 ¾ x 27 5/8 in.)

RECOMMENDED READING Mucha, Jirˇí. Alfons Maria Mucha: His Life and Art (New York: Rizzoli, 1989)

Fig. 9: The Slav Epic — The Slavs in Their Original Homeland, 1912. Egg tempera on canvas, 610 x 810 cm (240 x 390 in.). City of Prague Gallery

Fig. 10: The Slav Epic — The Printing of the Bible of Kralice, 1914. Egg tempera on canvas, 610 x 810 cm (240 x 390 in.). City of Prague Gallery

Arwas, Victor; Brabcova-Orlikova, Jana; and Dvorˇák, Anna M. Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1998). Catalog for a retrospective exhibition that traveled to seven American museums. Nosek, Pavel. Alfons Mucha — Knihy a cˇasopisy (Grafické dílo A. Muchy — cˇást I) (Alfons Mucha: Books and Periodicals [Graphic Work of A. Mucha, Part I]). (Prague: Zlatý ku˚nˇ, 1993). This is a bibliography of Mucha’s works reproduced in books and periodicals between 1881 and 1939. It was translated into English by Anna Dvorˇák and Michelle Brabec and into French by Christian Richet, who enlarged the original text and created a website with an illustrated version. See:

8 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

In May 2012, the paintings went on exhibit at the National Gallery’s Veletržní palác (Trade Fair Palace). In the spring of 2014 they will be moved to Prague’s main train station, where they will go on permanent display in what once served as the old railway station’s Art Nouveau entrance hall. Hopefully, with easier accessibility, the monumental paintings will be seen in a new context. The selected episodes were not merely a means of illustrating history, but the symbolical scenes enabled Mucha to reveal the relationships between men, between mankind and the world, and between the world and the universe. They demonstrate his talent as a serious painter who had earned the right to be considered a great creative spirit.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 9

A New Spring:


In the late 18th century, a great artistic tradition characterized by a unity of style applied to all fields of human creativity was fading away. As a result, at the dawn of the 19th century there was a certain quandary — especially in the field of architecture, where architects had used various historical styles according to the purpose of a building. This was a unique phenomenon in history; for the first time architects were completely without a framework or reference regarding what style to build. Historicism was also in conflict with rapidly developing technology and the new social order of the Industrial Revolution. New scientific discoveries, new views and perceptions of the world around, as well as the fin-de-siècle atmosphere stimulated original deliberation and debate about the purpose, form and function of art, architecture, applied arts and design. Artists and architects at the turn of the century began seeking an integrated artistic style that would transform and “beautify” the appearance of everyday objects. The idea of a stylistically unified, total work of art, a so-called Gesamtkunstwerk, brought a new aesthetic and strong social sensibility that attributed to the artist an important role in the transformation of society. Artists wanted to satisfy the needs of contemporary society and demonstrate a new, unorthodox attitude toward the past as well. The Czech lands presented ideal conditions for these emerging regenerative efforts and their spread. Bohemia, in particular, was among the most developed lands in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It had advanced industry, along with access to fine

Top: National House in Prose˘jov, designed by Jan Kote˘ra. Photo by Pernak Above: Original facade design of the National House in Prose˘jov by Jan Kote˘ra, 1905

Jan Kote˘ra, Divan, 1899: Kote˘ra (1871-1923), considered the founding father of Czech modern architecture, sought to unify interior elements such as furnishings with architectural design.

All non-architectural images are from the collection of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. Slovo | 9

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 10

Jan Kote˘ra, Trmal’s Villa in Prague, 1902-1903. Left photo by S˘Ju˚. Right photo by FOIBOS.

Jan Koula, Corner cabinet, c. 1890: Koula (1855–1919) and Josef Fanta (1856–1954) were leading protagonists of the folklore movement that influenced Czech Art Nouveau.

construction materials and quality professional education. Lively building activity took place in all major Czech cities (including Plzenˇ, Hradec Králové, Pardubice and Liberec), with new apartment houses and private villas, offices, schools, hospital buildings and factory complexes being built. This activity was particularly feverish in Prague. In the 1890s, Josefov, the medieval district in the center of Prague, was “sanitized”: old houses were demolished and modern buildings went up in their place; crooked streets gave way to wide boulevards. New buildings were constructed in Prague’s suburbs (later integrated into so-called Great Prague), such as Vinohrady, Karlín, Smíchov, Holešovice, Žižkov or Bubenecˇ, and the city centers were rebuilt. All these projects were opportunities for the application of the new style — Art Nouveau.

Purpose and form in the new architecture The second half of the 19th century was marked by the opening of the Czech lands to the rest of Europe. Czech artists closely monitored art developments abroad. They knew of the British Arts and Crafts movement, which aimed to resurrect quality craftsmanship in the industrial age. They also kept their eyes on parallel early Art Nouveau movements in Belgium and France characterized by pliant asymmetric décor with anthropomorphic and floral motifs. After all, flatness, linearity, ornamentality, asymmetry, refracted colors, stylization and symbolic representations of youth, growth, flowering and joy were typical features of Art Nouveau architecture as well as decorative arts. These could also be found in the artistic production of one of the most important European centers of Art Nouveau, which had the greatest influence on Czech artists. It was in Vienna where a rebellious group of young artists formed a so-called Sezession that opposed academism. Three years earlier, in 1894, architect Otto Wagner had begun teaching at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. His modern approach to architecture and his credo — purpose — construction — poetry — had a great impact on the next generation of architects, among them some from the Czech lands. “The driving forces in architectural creation are purpose, structure and place; and form is their result,” said architect Jan Koteˇra (1871-1923), in agreement with his teacher Otto Wagner. Koteˇra, whose early work belonged to the Art Nouveau, can be considered the founding personality of Czech modern architecture. Shortly after his arrival in Prague after his Vienna studies, at only 27 years of age, Koteˇra obtained a professorship at the School of Decorative Arts, where he created an important center of Czech Art Nouveau. He drew wide attention to his own work in 1900 when he completed the Peterka’s House in the lower end of Wenceslas Square in Prague. Its plain façade, freed from the stylistic classical details such as columns or cornice molding, and fine subtle decoration foreshadowed Koteˇra’s later

10 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 11

work, which strove to create a relationship among the specific space, construction and material. Many Czech buildings of that time had only a façade decorated in Art Nouveau style; new forms were not often used in the houses’ floor plans. One exception was the Prague home of sculptor František Bílek (1872-1941), for which the concept was cleverly subordinate to the symbolism of a wheat field, similar to an approach used in many of the buildings of Jan Koteˇra. In Koteˇra’s National House in Prosteˇjov (1905-1907), the shape and lines are perfectly conceptually linked with the character of the façade ornament as well as its furnishings. Complementing Koteˇra’s design, the leading Czech painters Jan Preisler and František Kysela and sculptors Stanislav Sucharda and Bohumil Kafka designed the house’s interior. The ornamental decoration includes not only biomorphic motifs, but also Czech folklore inspirations — an important feature of Czech (and Central European) Art Nouveau.

Above: In the tourist resort designed by Slovak architect Dus˘an Jurkovic˘ in Luhac˘ovice, Czech Republic, he sought to create a “primordial” Slavic folk architecture. Photos by Podzemnik

Johann Loetz Witwe glassworks, Vase with butterfly motif, 1898

Search for Slavic roots Great exhibitions were important milestones in the development of Czech architecture and applied arts at end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. After the Prague Jubilee Exhibition in 1891, more frequent use of metal structures emerged in Czech architecture. The 1895 Czech & Slavonic Ethnographic Exhibition in Prague, in turn, aroused an interest in folk culture. The folk inspirations mixed with elements of Art Nouveau can be found on many buildings or articles of daily use of that time. Along with architects Jan Koula (1855-1919) and Josef Fanta (1856-1954), who were the leading protagonists of the folklore movement and participants in the Ethnographic Exhibition, Jan Koteˇra also became integrated into this stream of thought. His two villas from the beginning of the 20th century especially evidenced this — Fröhlich’s House in Prague-Cˇernošice and Trmal’s Villa in Prague-Strašnice (both 1902-1903). The villas offer unique examples of the blending of geometric Art Nouveau ornamentation, the concept of an English country house and the Slavic tradition. An unparalleled combination of the Art Nouveau movement and folklorism in Central Europe culminated in Moravia, particularly in the works of an architect of Slovak origin, Dušan Jurkovicˇ (1868-1947). In his Pustevny (1897-1899), tourist shelters in the Beskydy Mountains, or spa complex in Luhacˇovice (1901-1903), which had become a new social and cultural center for western Slavs, Jurkovicˇ ceased his paraphrasing of rural architecture motifs and searched for some Slavic “primordial” form of folk architecture. His awareness of the qualities of folk architecture was intermingled with his sense of function and rationality combined with emotionality. Jurkovicˇ’s buildings, understood as Gesamtkunstwerk, were complemented by interiors Slovo | 11

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 12

George Fouquet’s jewelry shop in Paris was designed by Alphonse Mucha in 1901. Photo by O. Taris

Wilhelm Kralik Sohn glassworks, Bowl, after 1900

in an identical style, using the stimuli of rustic furniture. He especially liked to use local softwood (pine, spruce) and its natural warm hue with occasional color accents. In addition to their expressions in architecture, interior design and furniture, folk art inspirations were most strongly applied in textile and clothing production, especially in the form of embroidered ornament on fashion clothing. There were also garments sewn from folk costume material or imitating its type or cut. Designs published in Náš kroj (Our Folk Costume) Magazine in 1886-1887 were among the first examples of such tendencies. Among other artists, a young Alphonse Mucha published his ideas in this journal.

Trend-setting glass and ceramics Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is the best known Czech representative of the Art Nouveau style, not only in the field of graphic design, but also in other areas. In his interior designed for the Fouquet Jewelry Shop in Paris (1901), Mucha showed his versatility (he also designed jewelry for this company), and through the use of various materials — stone, wood, glass, bronze and textile — he gave Art Nouveau particularly beautiful expression. His influence is also evident from the fact that several Czech artists who passed through his Paris studio later became leaders of Czech Art Nouveau (primarily the graphic designer Vojteˇch Preissig). But many other artists and producers of Czech Art Nouveau (or Art Nouveau in the Czech lands, including many of German origin) were able to make an impact on the broader world stage. Two expositions of the Prague School of Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs in Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904) drew particular attention. However, Czech Art Nouveau won its greatest fame thanks to glass and ceramics. Already in the 1890s, Art Nouveau forms — depicting the movement of organic life forces — prevailed in factory production. The organically shaped bodies of vases and other vessels eluded rational formalization. In the Czech lands, glass manufacturing became the domain of these art forms. The Czech glassworks

12 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 13

won unambiguous acclaim north of the Alps and, together with glassmakers in France (especially Emil Gallé) and the U.S. (Louis C. Tiffany), became one of the three most important centers and exporters of Art Nouveau glass. The glassworks Loetz in Klášterský Mlýn in the Šumava Mountains was one of the leading companies. After a short initial period of Tiffany imitation, the glassworks developed its own repertoire of forms and decorations. Diverse types of products inspired by the undersea world or exotic flora (e.g. blossoms of the water lily, calla or orchid) were created. The vessels were wrapped by dynamic spatial elements in the form of ribs, handles and the like. The glassworks was awarded top prizes at the World’s Fairs in Paris (1889), Chicago (1893) and above all in Paris in 1900, where Loetz (together with Tiffany and some French glassworks) won the Grand Prize. Hence the company had representation and storehouses throughout Europe (Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Madrid, London) and its fame attracted some Viennese artists as well (e. g. Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann). In addition, other glassworks in the Czech lands adopted the Art Nouveau morphology — among them Wilhelm Kralik Sohn, Pallme König & Habel and Graf Harrach. Sculpturally modeled organic motifs also found application in ceramics, with ceramic schools playing a considerable role in the spread of the Art Nouveau style in the field of Czech ceramics production. Works by modellers (skilled pottery artists) in the Ceramics Vocational School in Teplice in North Bohemia achieved recognition throughout Europe. These ceramic pieces excelled in live plasticity, high-quality glaze and impressive modeling often inspired by flora (orchid, mistletoe, gingko biloba, etc.). Production at the ceramics factory Amphora in Trnovany near Teplice, with which the vocational school cooperated, was characterized by similarly high quality. It produced amphora vases in countless variations of organic shapes (suggestive of roots, sediments, igneous rock, slime and other “fluid” structures), expressive glazes and floral decorative motifs.

Johann Loetz Witwe glassworks, Vase, 1902-1903

Ceramics Vocational School in Teplice, Vase with skate fish motif

Far-reaching impact Along with the above-mentioned artists, firms and media, Czech Art Nouveau evolved into many additional forms and fields at the turn of the 20th century. It became an embracing style that affected all areas of artistic expression and production. Especially after 1900, the Art Nouveau movement became a powerful influence — with Art Nouveau elements found even in the works of more conservative architects and artists who combined them with historical motifs. Among the contributions that can only be mentioned here were important achievements in the field of architecture, including Corso Palace in Prague by Friedrich Ohmann, 1897-1898; U Nováku˚ Department Store and Topicˇ House in Prague by Osvald Polívka, 1902-1903 and 1905; Prague’s Main Railway Station by Josef Fanta, 1901-1909; the church in Šteˇchovice by Kamil Hilbert, 1906; and Prague’s Municipal House by Antonín Balšánek and Osvald Polívka, 1903-1912; significant applied arts include the works of ceramists Celda Kloucˇek and Anna Boudová-Suchardová, the jeweler Franta Anýž, glassmakers Zdenka Braunerová and Maria Kirchner, and many others. As these and others demonstrate, the Czech lands were unquestionably one of the most important centers of Art Nouveau in Europe, with the ability not only to respond to external stimuli, but to create a distinctive expression that merged with and reshaped the foreign perspective.

Kamil Hilbert, Church in Šte˘chovice, 1906

Slovo | 13

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 14

Eternal Seductress:


Art Nouveau jewelry allowed women to adorn themselves in the style that notably idealized the feminine. This gold, turquoise and opal pendant by an unknown designer features both sinuous symmetry and a slightly irregular handcrafted setting of the stones. Photo by Cole Bybee, courtesy of

A violet-strewn label for an ordinary toiletry illustrates the way Art Nouveau permeated commercial design, bringing a touch of elegance to the average household.

14 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

I like to think of Art Nouveau as one of the legendary great courtesans of the Belle Époque. Like theirs, her fashionable career spanned about 30 years, from fresh nubile youth in the late 1880s to elegant middle age about 1915. Art Nouveau was notorious in her day: reviled by some as decadent and grotesque, embraced by others as seductive and exquisite. By the end of World War I, her style was considered distinctly old-fashioned — overheated and outlandish by comparison with the cool jazzy flapper of Art Deco. Yet we’ve never forgotten this seductive style, and there are good reasons to continue revisiting the beautiful creations of this period. Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Sezession: all the names for this style (and these are just a few) suggest that it was new, young and a departure from the mainstream. It was an art of rebellion, but a delicate, aesthetic rebellion, compared with the much more political and serious-minded revolution of the Arts and Crafts movement. Shaped by philosophical artists like William Morris and beginning around 1860, the Arts and Crafts movement had already done the heavy lifting, as it were: rejecting the historicism, grandiosity and industrial production of mainstream 19th-century style. Art Nouveau did not flow directly from Arts and Crafts, but there was some overlap, as craft-minded artists like Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School, and Joseph Hoffman and the Wiener Werkstatte, moved the earthy handcrafted ethos in a direction of greater refinement, delicacy and freedom. Other influences on Art Nouveau included the arts of Japan, particularly ceramics, lacquer, textiles and woodcuts, which were being introduced into Europe by the 1870s. Art Nouveau comprises decorative arts in all media (furniture, glassware, metalwork, jewelry, textiles and so forth), as well as graphics for advertising and posters. It was a highly commercial and fashionable style, but despite its concern with beautiful surfaces, it cannot be seen as shallow. It drew from the roots of its zeitgeist: elegance, decadence, symbolism, sexuality and the depths of the unconscious (as newly articulated by Freud in the same period). Seeking a fresh, true source of inspiration, Art Nouveau artists turned to the natural world, but in their own way. Art Nouveau artists don’t show us sweeping landscapes, as a rule: no sublime mountains or misty effects of light. The natural world of Art Nouveau is marked by peculiarity and particularity: glistening scales, petals and feathers; curiosities dredged from the depths of the sea or brought from faraway exotic forests. Throughout Art Nouveau iconography, tendrils, tentacles, wings, leaves, carapaces and seedpods are inescapable. Figures of women are, of course, ubiquitous in Art Nouveau — hardly surprising given the emphasis on fashion, ornament and curves, as well as a deep fascination with the femme fatale and mythic archetypes. Female figures are often turned into purely decorative objects, but the depiction of women

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page 15

Advertisement, 1896, by Henri Privat-Livemont, a Belgian contemporary of Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau tilework similar to that in the background can still be found today.

also draws on a tradition in Western art that links women to nature or to symbolic stature. Thus female figures can be depicted with meta-human significance and are seen as reflecting nature’s moods, from tranquil to malevolent, as well as mythical or mystical concepts. This is particularly evident in the work of Alphonse Mucha — the women who inhabit almost all his work are not just lavishly lovely, but embody ideas ranging from fertility to fate. Even the most innocuously pretty blossoms decorating their coiffures were freighted with symbolism: roses, poppies, lilies were messages of love and death. In a world newly alert to Freudian secrets, the décor might be vegetal, but animal passions lay just below the surface. Art Nouveau designers sought to create interiors with a sense of harmony and serenity, and many embraced the idea of a totally designed environment, where each element contributed to the whole. Arising in the era of the telegraph, the illustrated newspaper and the high-quality art journal, Art Nouveau was really the first design style to reap the benefits of rapid mass communications and publicity. This gave it a trajectory that has been familiar ever since: early adoption by an intellectual, aesthetic-minded avant-garde; rapid appropriation by a wealthy, ultra-fashionable elite; a spread into mainstream popularity, devolving eventually to diluted, lower-quality down-market versions; and a fall from fashion, as the ‘next big thing’ comes along. But the products of this style were too distinctive, too finely made and simply too beautiful to be discarded for long. After a relatively brief out-of-favor period, Art Nouveau was ripe for both scholarly and popular reassessment. Scholarly works on the style date back to as early as the 1940s. In the popular imagination, Art Nouveau struck a particular chord with the counter-culture of the 1960s, when Mucha’s flamboyantly nonchalant cigarette-smoking beauties became icons of rebellious and lavish-tressed youth. Psychedelic poster art adopted an idiom of dead-on Art Nouveau homage, replete with serpentine lines and reviving a host of sinuous or bulbous typefaces. As the colorful, eclectic qualities of the hippie aesthetic began to influence the mainstream, reproduction Tiffany lamps and more-or-less skillful neo-Nouveau handicrafts became widely popular — and led many back to the source, to a rediscovery of the incomparable originality of the period. All periods consider themselves modern, but Art Nouveau was perhaps the first aesthetic idiom of our modernity, the world we still live in — a world of ever-accelerating technological change, a largely man-made environment, an international culture. This style, which bears a French name (possibly because of a Parisian shop opened by a German connoisseur) is truly international. It has roots in Japanese aesthetics, English philosophy and central-European craftsmanship, while some of its most distinguished works were produced in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Spain, Scotland and the U.S. Art Nouveau was the first style to be promoted through the sort of “lifestyle marketing” that is now so ubiquitous. Its philosophy of taste dictated that harmonious, aesthetically excellent interiors were within the reach of anyone willing to make an effort. Like Arts and Crafts before it and Art Deco afterward, Art Nouveau rises to the challenge of making visual sense of modernity, and meeting that challenge with spirit, elegance and freshness. It is not surprising that this style still speaks to us so eloquently today.

Felix Potin imperial plums: An unknown French artist used the occasion of a simple fruit crate label to introduce a stylish taste of the “new art.”

F. Champenois, Imprimeur — Editeur, 1897, by Alphonse Mucha: The graphic artist designed a stylish poster for the printer, Champenois, who produced much of his work.

The ironwork adorning the Paris Metro entrances firmly allied Art Nouveau with urban modernity. Photo courtesy of Karen Geer

Slovo | 15

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 16

Preserving Mucha’s Legacy:

J I Rˇ Í M U C H A A N D T H E M U C H A F O U N D AT I O N By Geraldine Mucha

Geraldine Mucha at her home in Prague

Mucha with his son Jirˇí, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 1920

16 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Alphonse Mucha was 55 years old when his son, Jirˇí, was born. Jirˇí was destined to become his father’s biographer and also the means by which Mucha’s reputation as an artist became established after his death. The Czech art establishment had always considered Alphonse Mucha as only a poster artist. During his lifetime all his other work was deemed old-fashioned, out of touch, uninteresting. Alphonse Mucha wanted his son to be a painter like himself and even taught him how to draw. But in fact it was Alphonse’s daughter, Jaroslava, who inherited her parents’ artistic skills; she became a picture conservator and, with her husband, Vladimír Terš, was responsible for the conservation of the Slav Epic canvases in the 1960s. The 20 large canvases had been hidden to protect them from the Nazis and the Communists and they were found by chance in the 1950s, rolled up and lying among heaps of coal in a semi-derelict castle in the Moravian countryside. The villagers sorted them with the help of Jaroslava and her husband, and since 1964, they have been exhibited every summer in the castle in Moravský Krumlov. The artistic talent of the family was handed down to Jirˇí in a different medium, writing. Jirˇí’s first publication appeared when he was still at school under the pseudonym “Klacek.” In 1938, in order to support his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, he became a regular correspondent of the prestigious newspaper Lidove Noviny. German troops occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939; Jirˇí returned briefly to Prague that year to attend his father’s funeral. Back in France, he joined the newly formed Czech army and, when France fell, made his way to England, joined the Royal Air Force and became a war correspondent for the BBC. It was in 1941, while he was posted at Cholmondley Park, close to the English town of Leamington Spa, that I met him. We married six months later and, when the war ended in 1945, we returned to Prague. During the wave of arbitrary mass arrests that afflicted the Communist countries of Central Europe under Stalin in the early 1950s, Jirˇí, by then one of his country’s best-known authors, suddenly found himself arrested for alleged espionage. The State Prosecutor demanded the death penalty, but he was eventually sentenced to hard labor in the Jáchymov uranium mines. His book, Living and Partly Living, is a record of the first four years of his sentence; he wrote it on scraps of paper smuggled out piecemeal by a friendly miner. Jirˇí was released in 1954 and continued to pursue his career as an author.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 17

In the 1960s, Jirˇí was approached by Brian Reade, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum had decided to mount an exhibition of Mucha posters and Reade wanted to know where examples could be found. Only after endless wrangling with the Communist authorities was our entire collection of posters and panels sent to London. The exhibition was a phenomenal success, and London was suddenly flooded with copies of Mucha posters and panels. As the family members were all behind the Iron Curtain, no copyright was paid. However, Jirˇí took it as free publicity. When everything was safely back in Prague, the Communists totally ignored the whole event; they regarded the posters as degenerate and bourgeois. However Jirˇí determined not to let the interest die down and decided to organize further exhibitions on his own. He got a friend in London to collect the copyright and the Communists turned a blind eye because, as everyone knows, anything that made hard currency was allowed. The exhibitions could only be small-scale because Jirˇí had no support from the authorities, who continued to express no interest in Mucha’s art. Thanks to his singlehanded efforts, interest abroad was kept alive and gradually increased. Eventually he found a wealthy Japanese businessman who sponsored the first Mucha exhibition in Tokyo. The success of the Tokyo exhibition was sufficiently impressive to alert the Czech authorities, and one of their art historians, employed at the Prague Ministry of Culture, was made responsible for Mucha. Fortunately the only thing that the art historian did was to get sent on holiday to Japan. Jirˇí’s work continued with the exception that it had now become official. He could organize large-scale exhibitions; one even took place in the Grand Palais in Paris. Jirˇí died suddenly at the age of only 76, and his entire inheritance fell on the shoulders of his son, John. John had been born in London in 1948, shortly before the Communist coup, and we had returned to Czechoslovakia when he was about four months old. At the age of 18, John had returned to London where he had built a highly successful career in banking. Despite his banking career, he decided to take an active responsibility for managing the Mucha inheritance. He realized that it was important to establish a foundation to preserve Mucha’s artistic heritage and also to promote his work. In 1992 the Mucha Foundation was established. Since that time it has presented more than 60 exhibitions devoted to Mucha’s work worldwide. In 1998, the Mucha Museum in Prague was started; it has become the most visited museum in the Czech Republic. An important celebration for the Foundation was the 150th anniversary of Mucha’s birth, celebrated with special exhibitions in Prague, Kutná Hora and Ostrava. And now we are very honored to be celebrating this grand opening of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library with the American Czech and Slovak community, a community that welcomed Mucha when he was living in America during the early part of the last century and to whom we are happy to say “thank you” with this exhibition.

Above: Alphonse Mucha’s children, Jaroslava and Jir˘í Mucha, circa 1926 Below: Jir˘í Mucha, son of the artist, posing for his portrait with paint brushes, 1925

Jir˘í and Geraldine Mucha, 1941

Slovo | 17

exhibit SHOWCA SE

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 18

By Tomoko Sato

ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939)

An Introduction to the Exhibition

‘The purpose of my work was… to construct, to unite people;… we must all hope that humanity will draw together and this will be easier the more people understand each other.’ – Alphonse Mucha, 1928

Self-portrait wearing a rubashka, Paris, early 1890s Presented by his Russian painter friend David Widhopff, the rubashka was a symbol of Slav unity for Mucha. He appears in the Russian shirt in many of his self-portraits.

18 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

The exhibition, Inspirations of Art Nouveau, brings a new perspective to the work of Alphonse Mucha (or Alfons Mucha), who is best known as a creator of the style known as Art Nouveau, throwing new light on his Moravian roots. Showing more than 230 works from the Mucha Trust Collection, encompassing not only his famed fin-de-siècle posters and decorative works but also his lesser-known paintings, drawings and photographs, the exhibition explores his contribution to the Art Nouveau style and how his Czech background influenced his art and philosophy. This exhibition also uncovers Mucha’s personal life and the thinking behind his work, displaying for the first time his manuscripts, personal effects and a selection of traditional folk costumes, which he collected as a source material for his work. The display is divided into six sections. The first two sections look at a series of Mucha’s self-portraits and family portraits, as well as the works associated with Ivancˇice, his hometown. These works reveal the importance of

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 19

Salon des Cent Mucha Exhibition, 1897 Color lithograph, 66.2 x 46 cm Mucha’s artistic fame in the Parisian art world was consolidated with this solo exhibition at the Salon des Cent, showing 448 works. Designing this exhibition poster, Mucha incorporated Moravian elements in his sinuous decorative style, such as the embroidered folk cap worn by the girl and her daisy crown evoking the meadows of his homeland.


Slavic identity in Mucha’s life and his strong ties with his homeland. The third section concentrates on Mucha’s work in Paris, where he gained overnight success with the appearance of his first poster for Sarah Bernhardt in 1895. While his iconic Parisian posters and decorative designs are showcased here, the fourth section examines Mucha’s ideas behind his work, especially his concept of ‘beauty,’ a core value in his art, and the use of motifs from Moravian folk art. By 1900, Mucha’s distinctive style, which the French called ‘Le style Mucha,’ had become synonymous with the new decorative style spreading across Europe and the United States. The final two sections highlight Mucha’s magnum opus, the Slav Epic (1911-28), and his final, unfinished project, a triptych of the Three Ages: Reason, Wisdom and Love (1936-38). Conceived as monuments for the Slavs and mankind, respectively, both works embody Mucha’s vision to ‘unite people’ with his art. Inspirations of Art Nouveau reappraises Mucha’s achievements in the broader context of his life and work as a Czech and visionary artist.

Slovo | 19

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 20


Portrait of Anna, circa 1885 Oil on canvas, 55 x 34.5 cm

Portrait of Angela, circa 1880 Oil on canvas, 50 x 39.5 cm Mucha had two younger sisters, Anna and Angela, as well as three half-siblings from his father’s previous marriage. After leaving home at the age of 19, he maintained strong ties with his family and friends in Moravia. Anna was particularly close to Mucha, regularly exchanging letters with him. In 1885 she married his friend Filip Kubr, Czech patriot, writer and publisher, and Mucha made many illustrations for his brother-in-law’s satirical magazines, Slon and Krokodíl.

Portrait of Marus˘ka, circa 1908-17 Oil on canvas, 105 x 90cm



Twenty-two years his junior, Marus˘ka (Marie Chytilová) was an art student from Prague when she met Mucha in Paris in 1903. The couple married in Prague in 1906, and their daughter Jaroslava was born in 1909, followed by the son Jir˘í in 1915. Maruška posed for many of Mucha’s works, and her unflagging support was a source of inspiration while he was engaged in the Slav Epic project.

Marus˘ka with Jaroslava and Jir˘í at Zbiroh Castle, West Bohemia, circa 1917 Jaroslava and Jir˘í spent a large part of their formative years at Zbiroh Castle, where Mucha worked on the Slav Epic canvases for nearly 20 years. They often posed as models for their father’s paintings. Jaroslava also helped her father as a studio assistant, and later she became a painting restorer. Jir˘í became a prominent writer and his father’s biographer. 20 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 21


As Mucha wrote later, the floral patterns decorating Moravian folk crafts and village embroideries were a source of inspiration for his design. While in Paris, he aspired to incorporate such Slavic elements into his style, with flowers and plants becoming important components.

Study for Savon Notre Dame, circa 1896 Pencil and watercolor on paper, 52 x 37 cm This design shows one of the prototypes of le style Mucha, with a single figure of the Madonna against an ornamental circular backdrop. For this figure, Mucha was probably inspired by a traditional image of the Virgin and Child from his childhood. Mucha saw this type of image in many variations at the pilgrim fairs to which he was taken as a boy.

Regional Exhibition at Ivanc˘ice, 1903 Color Lithograph, 93 x 59 cm The motif of the church tower reappears in this poster, which was designed for a 1913 trade fair at Ivanc˘ice, as well as in one of the Slav Epic canvases produced in 1914, The Printing of the Bible of Kralice (see Fig. 10 on page 8), which celebrated the event of 1578. In these works the tower of Ivanc˘ice stands as a timeless symbol of Mucha’s spiritual home.

Study for Memory of Ivanc˘ice, 1903 Charcoal and pastel on grey paper, 45 x 27 cm Ivanc˘ice, and especially its church tower, is a recurring motif in Mucha’s work. The church (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Parish Church) was a landmark of his hometown and the subject of one of his earliest watercolors made in 1878. In 1903, at the height of his career in Paris, Mucha revisited this subject with Memory of Ivanc˘ ice, which featured the swallows (symbolizing home) flying round the church tower in the background. Slovo | 21

I V A N Cˇ I C E A N D C Z E C H M O T I F S

Still Life, circa 1920s Oil on canvas, 35.7 x 25.5 cm

Rêverie, 1897 Color lithograph, 72.7 x 55.2 cm This was originally designed as an in-house calendar for the printing company Champenois, but its great popularity led to its swift publication as a decorative panel. Here, Mucha used a composition similar to Savon Notre Dame, with a dreamy young woman in a beautifully embroidered gown, set against a halo decorated with an elaborate floral pattern.

Lorenzaccio, 1896 Color lithograph, 203.7 x 76 cm The third in a series of seven posters produced for Sarah Bernhardt, this poster advertises her production of a play by Alfred de Musset. In the play, Bernhardt performed the role of the male hero, Lorenzo de’ Medici, whose silhouetted figure against the arched window forms an elegant S-curve in this poster. Mucha designed all the Bernhardt posters in a consistent style — a tall format with the prominent standing figure of the actress placed in a raised ‘niche’ like a saint, and his posters helped to promote the image of the ‘Divine Sarah.’




12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 22

Design for a fan with poppy and ivy motifs, circa 1899 Pencil, watercolor and gold on paper, 38 x 25 cm

22 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 23

Moët & Chandon: Champagne White Star, 1899 Color lithograph, 60 x 20 cm

Woman with a Daisy, circa 1900 Printed upholstery fabric, 60 x 78.5 cm

Slovo | 23


Box for Lefèvre-Utile biscuits: Gaufrettes Vanille, circa 1900 Tin box covered with lithographed label, 19.3 x 18.3 x 17.5 cm


Mucha’s fame as a poster artist led him to commissions for designing a wide range of objects, including textiles, biscuit tins and wrappers, as well as everyday domestic utensils and fixtures. Like many other Art Nouveau artists, Mucha wished to produce beautiful, yet practical and affordable objects for ordinary people in order to improve the quality of their life. Therefore, in 1902, he published Documents décoratifs, a ‘handbook’ for craftsmen and art students that would offer a variety of design ideas to create an Art Nouveau lifestyle. It was sold to schools and libraries throughout Europe and helped to promote le style Mucha internationally.


The style developed from the Sarah Bernhardt posters is applied to this poster, advertising Moët & Chandon’s ‘White Star’ champagne, which is still on the market today. Here, its elegant aroma is symbolized by the figure of a beautiful woman holding a plate of grapes, intertwined with swirling vine tendrils and stems of flowers. Mucha produced several designs for this distinguished company, which were used on other posters, menus and postcards.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 24




The Arts: Dance, 1898 Color lithograph, 60 x 38 cm Dance is part of a set of four decorative panels (panneaux décoratifs), called The Arts, that also includes, Painting, Poetry and Music. Each art is represented by a female figure against an ornamental circular backdrop framing a motif from nature at a particular time of day, which would evoke the creative inspiration. Here, Dance is depicted with falling leaves blown by a morning breeze. The flowing curves and swirls of the figure’s hair and drapery indicate the lightness and the smoothness of her movement.

Job, 1896 Color lithograph, 66.7 x 46.4 cm An advertisement for Job (a trademark for the Joseph Bardou Company) cigarette papers, this poster shows the prominent figure of a sensuous woman against a background featuring Job monograms. In this design, the arabesques formed by the woman’s abundant hair and the swirling smoke rising from her cigarette create a rich decorative effect. Here, Mucha also introduced a Byzantine effect with the border decoration inspired by mosaic work, which adds an air of dignity to a commercial poster. He regarded Byzantine art as providing the spiritual roots of Slavic civilization.

The Moon and the Stars: study for The Moon, 1902 Ink and watercolor on paper, 56 x 21 cm Decorative panels were posters without text, which Mucha innovated purely for decorative purposes. In this series, however, Mucha elevated them to a higher level of art, expressing his philosophical idea about the mysterious power of the universe, rather than producing mere ornaments. Here, the Moon is personified as a contemplative young woman floating in the sky, illuminated by a mysterious light.

24 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 25


Madonna of the Lilies, 1905 Tempera on canvas, 247 x 182 cm In 1902, Mucha was commissioned to decorate a church in Jerusalem dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Madonna of the Lilies was painted as one of the murals for the church but the project was cancelled later for unknown reasons. According to Mucha’s letter to Marus˘ka, he conceived the subject as ‘Virgo purissima,’ which is here depicted as the heavenly vision of the Madonna, surrounded by a mass of lilies, symbol of purity. The seated young girl in Slavic folk costume carries a wreath of ivy leaves, symbol of remembrance. Contrasting with her strong physical presence, Mucha portrayed the Virgin as a spiritual being, who is radiant with her mystical power and illuminates the girl with her light. Slovo | 25

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 26

Savon Mucha, 1906 Color lithograph, 41.9 x 61.2 cm


Between 1904 and 1909, Mucha visited the United States five times. On his first visit, he received a hero’s welcome, introduced as ‘the greatest decorative artist in the world’ (New York Daily News, 1904). In 1906, during his third stay, he was commissioned to design soap boxes for Armour & Co in Chicago. The soap was named ‘Savon Mucha,’ and he was the first ‘celebrity artist’ who became a brand name for a household product. This folding-screen-shaped panel was used in shops as a point-of-sale display, featuring the four fragrances of the soap — violet, lilac, heliotrope and sandalwood — personified by a beautiful woman in each panel.

Mrs. Frances Crane Leatherbee with her son Charles, Lake Forest, U.S.A., 1909 The Mucha family (left to right: Jir˘í, Jaroslava, Marus˘ka, Alphonse) at Cape Cod, 1920



Mrs. Frances Crane Leatherbee was one of the daughters of Charles Richard Crane, a Slavophile and wealthy businessman from Chicago. Here she is posing for Mucha, who was commissioned by Crane to make her portrait in 1908. Crane agreed to sponsor Mucha’s Slav Epic project on Christmas Day, 1909. Ten years later, Mucha revisited the United States with his family for the exhibition of five Slav Epic canvases, which toured to the Art Institute of Chicago (1920) and the Brooklyn Museum (1921).

Maude Adams as Joan of Arc, 1909 Lithograph, hand-colored with watercolor and gouache, 63 x 23 cm This is a print version of the oil portrait of Maude Adams in the role of Joan of Arc (owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The portrait was commissioned to commemorate a single performance of Schiller’s play, The Maid of Orleans, on June 21, 1909, at the Harvard University stadium. For this work, Mucha applied the same design formula as that used for the Sarah Bernhardt posters.

26 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 27


‘Accept Love and Enthusiasm from Your Son, Mother of the Holy Nation’: study for a mural for the Lord Mayor’s Hall, Obecní Du˚m, Prague, 1910-11 Pencil and charcoal on canvas, 130 x 90 cm On his return to Bohemia in 1910, Mucha undertook his first major project in his home country: the decoration of the Lord Mayor’s Hall in the newly built Obecní Du˚m (Municipal House) in Prague. This charcoal study was made for one of the three wall panels that depicted the representatives of Slavic youths swearing their allegiance to the mother nation. (See photos of the finished hall on page 7.) Above right: Moravian Teachers’ Choir, 1911 Color lithograph, 106 x 77 cm Founded in 1903, the Moravian Teachers’ Choir was a malevoice ensemble, particularly known for its mission to promote contemporary national music. The Moravian composer Leos˘ Janác˘ek, who was inspired by Moravian speech and folk music, contributed a number of works to the choir. In this poster, Mucha, who had known Janác˘ek from his youth, featured a Moravian girl in a folk costume from the town of Kyjov. Her gesture, listening to the music sung by the blackbird in the dim light of dawn, and the motif of a dead tree, evoking the withered state of national culture under foreign occupation, seem to convey the poster’s message for hope and national renewal. Song of Bohemia, 1918 Oil on canvas, 100 x 138 cm A musical theme is depicted also in this painting, which was reproduced in the Zlatá Praha magazine in 1918 (10 July issue) with the title ‘Our Song [Nas˘e písen˘].’ Three girls in national costumes are resting on a hilltop overlooking a great expanse of Bohemian countryside. The ecstatic expression of the girl in the foreground evokes a song that would unite the Czech people. Later that year, Mucha’s homeland regained independence; it was reborn as Czechoslovakia.

Slavia, circa 1920 Oil on canvas, 80 x 76 cm Slavia is a personification of the Slavs. Mucha explored this motif as a symbol of Slavic unity in many of his later works. The prototype of his ‘Slavia’ image was created by two works featuring Charles Crane’s daughter, Josephine Crane Bradley, as Slavia: a poster for the Slavia Insurance Company (1907) and Josephine’s portrait (1908: National Gallery in Prague). In both works, she is depicted as a majestic, seated figure in a ceremonial white gown, against an ornamental circular backdrop, a trademark of his decorative style from Paris. In this version, Slavia is placed in a less decorative setting, but Mucha rendered the patterns of blue embroidery on her gown with delicate brush works. Slovo | 27

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 28

The Slav Epic (cycle No.20): The Apotheosis of the Slavs — Slavs for Humanity, 1926 Egg tempera and oil on canvas, 480 x 405 cm City of Prague Gallery




The idea of Slavic unity was the theme that Mucha pursued throughout his career. With The Apotheosis of the Slavs, the last painting of the Slav Epic cycle, Mucha expressed his view of Slavic history and its future. While celebrating the liberation of the Slavs after 1918 as its apotheosis in the center of the composition, he surrounded this contemporary event with a spiral of past history from the ancient times through the joys and sorrows of the Slavic peoples. Furthermore, he included in the center of the picture the tiny figure of a girl holding the light of hope for the future of the Slavs and humanity, a motif that he would revisit in the early 1930s.

Mucha directing a group of models posing for The Slav Epic (cycle No.20): The Apotheosis of the Slavs Study for The Slav Epic (cycle No.6): The Coronation of the Serbian Tsar S˘te˘pán Dus˘an as East Roman Emperor, 1924 Pen and ink and watercolor on paper, 44 x 39 cm This study was made for the sixth painting of the Slav Epic cycle, depicting the procession of the Serbian King S˘te˘pán Dus˘an, following his coronation as the Emperor of the Serbs and the Greeks on Easter of 1346. The detailed depiction of the crowd in folk costumes and the dome of the cathedral show an influence from Mucha’s trip to the Balkans and Greece earlier in 1924. 28 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Models posing as struggling figures for The Slav Epic (cycle No.2): The Celebration of Svantovít, 1911-12 Before working on each canvas of the Slav Epic, Mucha produced numerous staged photographs, documenting costumed models posing under his ‘theatre’ directions. From these photographs he selected appropriate images and synthesized them to create a complicated historical event on a single canvas. Although the images were intended as studies for his final paintings, Mucha’s approach to image-making has much in common with filmmaking.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 29

Lottery of the Union of Southwestern Moravia, 1912 Color lithograph, 128 x 95 cm


Under the Austrian regime’s ruthless policy of Germanization, the Czech language could only be taught in private schools run by local communities. Mucha designed this poster to promote a lottery for raising funds for those schools in Southwestern Moravia. The poster features a young schoolgirl staring accusingly at the viewers and, behind her, Slavia crouching in despair on a dead tree, symbolizing the pitiful state of Czech culture. Together, they make an emotional appeal to the public to buy lottery tickets to support her education and ailing Slavia.


Study for the poster Russia Restituenda (Russia Must Recover), 1922 Pen and ink and watercolor on paper, 52.2 x 30.2 cm

War, 1916 Pencil and wash heightened with white on paper, 36 x 47.5 cm This is one of a series of visionary drawings that Mucha made in response to the First World War. The picture depicts the ghastly destructive power of war, with numerous naked emancipated bodies piled up in heaps, in the desolate burning landscape.

This poster served as a plea for help for starving children during the aftermath of the Russian Civil War (1917-22), which paralyzed the country’s economy and killed millions through widespread disease and starvation, in addition to the casualties of war. The situation was worsened further by a catastrophic famine, which broke out in the Volga-Ural region in 1921. International relief efforts began that year. Mucha’s poster conveys a compassionate message eloquently with the image of a distressed peasant woman holding a dying child, drawn from the Christian iconography of the Virgin and Child. Slovo | 29

France Embraces Bohemia, 1918 Oil on canvas, 122 x 105 cm

The Light of Hope, 1933 Oil on canvas, 96.2 x 90.7 cm

The naked woman standing at the cross embodies Bohemia; she wears a white headdress hanging over her shoulder, the end of which bears the crest of the double-tailed lion, the symbol of Prague. The red-capped male figure bending over her is the Spirit of the French Revolution. Here, the Spirit has just released the ropes that were binding her to the cross; these allude to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is now giving her a kiss of encouragement. The painting celebrates a spiritual bond between the two countries through their aspirations to liberty.

The 15th anniversary of the independence of Czechoslovakia was shrouded by a sense of foreboding as news of Hitler’s rise to power spread. It was in this ominous atmosphere that Mucha decided to make a large oil painting depicting the horrors of war. This painting is believed to be a study for a work that never came to fruition. The picture features a girl dressed in white, protecting the light of hope with her hands — the motif is taken from The Apotheosis of the Slavs (1926). Her figure stands out from the darkness, within which terrified people run to escape the horrors of war.

In his final years, under the growing menace of another war, Mucha launched an ambitious new project, a triptych, The Age of Reason, The Age of Wisdom, and The Age of Love, which was intended to be a monument for all mankind. The themes addressed here — reason, wisdom and love – were for Mucha the fundamental building blocks of mankind. According to his notes, he considered reason and love to be two extremes that could only be united through wisdom, and he believed the harmonious working of the three elements would contribute to the progress of mankind. When Mucha died in 1939, the triptych was still in a preliminary stage, but through these surviving studies, one can glimpse Mucha’s message of hope.




12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 30

Study for The Age of Reason, 1936-38 Pencil and watercolor on paper, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Study for The Age of Love, 1936-38 Pencil and watercolor on paper, 30.5 x 35.5 cm

Study for The Age of Wisdom, 1936-38 Pencil and watercolor on paper, 35 x 32 cm

30 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 31


Mucha’s photographic practice spanned more than 50 years. From his youth in the 1880s he continued to take photographs throughout his life. His photographs in the Mucha Trust Collection, surviving in the form of glass/celluloid negatives and vintage prints, cover a wide range of subjects and genres, such as portraits, documentary shots of his surroundings and street life, studies of models and staged photographs, as well as landscapes, nature and architectural studies. Mucha did not consider his photographs works of art, leaving them without alteration or embellishment, unlike other photographers of that time. However, Mucha’s free, uncalculated approach to this medium makes his photographs look surprisingly fresh, a unique example of modern photography.


Karel Václav Mas˘ek, Czech painter as a student at the Munich Academy of Art, circa 1886

Mucha and Jaroslava posing for the poster De Forest Phonofilm (1927), Zbiroh Castle, West Bohemia, 1927

St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square, Moscow, from his research trip to Russia for the Slav Epic project, 1913

Model posing in the studio, Rue du Val de Grâce, Paris, circa 1902

Mucha with his friends in the studio, Rue de la Grande Chaumière, Paris: (left to right) Paul Gauguin, Mucha, Czech painter Lude˘k Marold and Gauguin’s mistress ‘Anna the Javanaise,’ circa 1893-94 Slovo | 31


Dome of the Chilandar Monastery, Mount Athos, from his research trip to the Balkans and Greece for the Slav Epic project, 1924

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page 32


Grand Opening of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library Saturday and Sunday, July 14 & 15 Join in the celebration of the NCSML’s recovery from the Flood of 2008. Tour the restored and expanded museum and library and view three exceptional new exhibits and the restored Slegar Immigrant Home. The weekend-long grand opening festival will include music, films, a parade, puppetry, a light show, live musical entertainment, food and beverages.

Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau July 14 through December 31, Jiruska Gallery


Direct from Prague and London, this stunning exhibition features more than 230 exquisite works by one of the world’s most well-known 19th-century artists, a leading light of the Art Nouveau movement. Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau includes paintings, jewelry, sculptures and lithographs from the Mucha Foundation. Not since 1998 has an exhibit of this size and caliber appeared in the United States. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view the lush beauty of Mucha’s flowing, elegant art, recognized and cherished by people all over the world.

Weird & Wonderful: Award-Winning Art for Children’s Books


July 14 – October 7, Petrik Gallery

Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.

Seventy-three award-winning illustrations from the famed Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB) are sure to enchant both the young and the young-at-heart.

It All Comes Out in the Wash Smith Gallery

Holidays: Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday. Open Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Mucha Special Exhibition Admission: Members . . . . . . . . . . . . .FREE Adults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$12 Seniors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$10 Students 13 & above (with ID), active military . . . .$5 Children 6-12 . . . . . . . . . . .$3 5 & Under . . . . . . . . . . . .FREE Admission includes all museum exhibits, including Rising Above: The Story of a People and the Flood at the Kosek Building, 87 Sixteenth Avenue SW.

Starting January 2, 2013 Regular Admission: Members . . . . . . . . . . . . .FREE Adults . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$10 Seniors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$8 Students 14 & above (with ID), active military . . . .$3 Children 13 & Under . . . .FREE

Embellished textiles damaged in the Flood of 2008 will be on view for the first time after four years of restoration. Visitors will be thrilled to see the vibrant colors and workmanship of these painstakingly restored treasures.

Rising Above: The Story of a People and the Flood Ongoing, Kosek Building in Czech Village, 87 Sixteenth Ave. SW This permanent exhibition tells the story of the Czechs and Slovaks who came to Cedar Rapids and overcame wave after wave of adversity as they forged their destinies in the U.S. Utilizing multimedia, the exhibit takes visitors through the settlement years and the establishment of a thriving ethnic community. The devastating Flood of 2008 is now a part of this history, told through news stories, video and eyewitness accounts, culminating with a walk-in model of a flooded home.

A Night with Emil Viklicky´ and Special Guest Petr Cancura Friday, August 3, 7:30 p.m., Rozek Grand Hall Enjoy an evening of Moravian jazz music with the renowned Emil Viklický and guest musician Petr Cancura. $12 for museum members, $14 for non-members. Beverages and appetizer plates available for purchase.

Who Is Saint Nicholas? Advent and Christmas Saint Petrik Gallery, October 19, 2012 – January 6, 2013 On loan from the St. Nicholas Center in Holland, Michigan, this exhibit tells the St. Nicholas story, using artifacts and images to illustrate his life, his relationship to Christian tradition, and St. Nicholas-related customs around the world. It’s festive, fun and educational for all ages.

BrewNost! An International Beer Tasting Friday, October 26, 6-9:30 p.m., Museum campus Raise your glass in a toast to BrewNost!, the area’s finest beer-sipping extravaganza held every fall to benefit the NCSML. Guests will enjoy a worldwide selection of premium beers paired with hors d’oeuvres created by area chefs. Call Kecia, 319-362-8500, X205, to reserve tickets for this special night out! Presenting Sponsors: CRST International and Rockwell Collins

Old Prague Christmas Market Visit our website ( for more information and updates. 32 | National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Friday & Saturday, November 30, December 1 Enjoy the magical experience of an old-world Christmas market with hand-crafted artisan gifts and traditional treasures, the NCSML Guild’s Annual Cookie Walk, holiday music, caroling and food.

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:49 PM Page D

WHAT MOVES YOU? For more than 35 years, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library has collected, preserved and interpreted the stories of Czechs and Slovaks. Today, the NCSML is a national museum where anyone from anywhere can appreciate the stories, experiences and contributions of Czechs and Slovaks. In learning about others, they will learn about themselves, inspired to question: Who am I? Where did I come from? What do we have in common?

A new strategic plan focuses our efforts… Goal I Goal II

Open a world-class museum and library in 2012. Be the leading educational resource in the United States on the history and culture of the Czechs and Slovaks. Goal III Engage diverse nation-wide audiences. Goal IV Provide visitors with an inspiring, participatory experience. Goal V Grow current and add new resources to ensure our future as a thriving institution.

How can you help? A gift to the Exhibit Fund will: ▪ Create dynamic and relevant temporary exhibitions ▪ Grow the collection with the acquisition of select artifacts A gift to the Permanent Exhibition will: ▪ Allow the NCSML to create a signature, modern and interactive interpretive experience. Special commemorative opportunities are available for gifts beginning at $10,000. A gift to the Traveling Exhibit Fund will help the NCSML reach new destinations! A gift to the Library Fund will: ▪ Allow the NCSML to add critical volumes and primary source material to its inventory. ▪ Permit the national Oral History program to continue its important work in documenting the memories of Czech- and Slovak-Americans. A gift to the Educational Program will: ▪ Provide necessary scholarship opportunities for visiting schoolchildren. ▪ Help the NCSML develop online curricula that will become invaluable tools to educators throughout the world when teaching about the immigrant experience, the heritage and culture of Czech- and Slovak-Americans, and much more! A Slovo Sponsorship gift will: ▪ Support the journal you have in your hands right now; additional funding will bring two full-color issues per year to eager readers everywhere.

MISSION We inspire people from every background to connect to Czech and Slovak history and culture.

VISION We are a museum that celebrates life. Czech life. Slovak life. American life. We are a museum that encourages self-discovery, a museum that asks what it means to be free. Through extraordinary exhibitions and experiences, we tell stories of freedom and identity, family and community, human rights and dignity. Our stories connect yesterday with today and tomorrow.

A gift to the General Fund will: ▪ Support the entire NCSML operation. This is the most valuable type of financial gift you can provide: It goes to where we need it most.

Support the NCSML and sustain what moves you. “Capturing what is beautiful and noble is important to me and that is certainly why I support the museum.” ~ Katherine Svoboda, Aurora, Colorado For more information on any of these gifting opportunities, please contact the NCSML development team at 319-362-8500. Or, visit and click the “support” button.

1400 Inspiration Place SW Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404 (319) 362-8500

12-1-4 Slovo Summer 2012_05-7-73 SlovoWinter05/06.qxd 6/12/12 1:48 PM Page A

This issue of Slovo is made possible by a very generous gift from the

With more than 85,000 members, the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) is a fraternal benefit society that ranks among the top fraternal societies active in the United States today. Since its founding in 1892 in Cleveland, Ohio, FCSLA has grown to provide licensed financial products in 47 states and Washington, D.C. Membership and its benefits are available to men, women and children of Slav descent living in the United States. Discover the fraternal advantage — discover the FCSLA! For more information visit

1400 Inspiration Place SW ▪ Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404 ▪ (319) 362-8500 ▪

Slovo Magazine  

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library quarterly magazine