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The exhibition Alfons Mucha: Shaping the Czech Identity celebrates the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 by exploring Mucha´s contribution to the nation´s struggle for national identity and self-determination. A large-screen projection of his life´s work, The Slav Epic, forms a spectacular and moving backdrop and context for the display of the first postage stamps and banknotes Mucha created for the newly independent Czechoslovak state. Curated by the Mucha Foundation's Tomoko Sato, the exhibition also includes a range of works in which Mucha addresses Czech identity through lithographs, drawings, photographs, and writings on display in Czech Center New York.
Through his work Alfons Mucha, a passionate patriot and keen political thinker, contributed greatly to creating the image of the First Republic and regarded his art as a means to serve his homeland. His life story and work is, however, also inherently associated with the United States of America and the patron Charles Richard Crane. Without the support of Charles Richard Crane, an American businessman and philanthropist, the work would probably never have come to life. Crane met the painter in New York City and decided to provide financial support for Mucha's project. He also agreed that all twenty canvases would be dedicated to the City of Prague once finished, to be put on permanent display in a hall expressly built by the City for that purpose. Mucha expressed his gratitude by incorporating his portrait of Josephine Crane Bradley, his patron´s daughter, as Slavia in his design for the first Czechoslovak 100 koruna banknote.
Alfons Mucha: Shaping the Czech Identity will be presented by the Czech Center New York in cooperation with The Mucha Foundation and the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in New York.
Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) was born in Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic). He was a prolific artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a key figure in the Art Nouveau movement. His unique style influenced an entire generation of painters, graphic artists, and designers. Mucha was catapulted into artistic stardom following the release of his unique promotional poster design for famed French actress Sarah Bernhardt’s lead role in Gismonda in 1894. The incredible success of that innovative poster transformed Mucha into an artistic icon overnight!
Czech Center New York
at the Bohemian National Hall (between 1st and 2nd Avenue)
321 E 73rd Street
New York, NY 10021