Alphonse Mucha was a Czech born , Parisian artist. Born in 1860 he started his art career painting theatrical scenery, before moving to Paris to study at the Academie Julien. In 1895 Mucha produced a poster for a play starring then famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. The poster was a sensation and launched Muchas career as a designer of posters and other commercial art.
His style was so influential that he was widely imitated and many of his ideas became part of an art and design movement, art nouveau. Based on natural forms abstracted and decorating classically draped figures Mucha was enormously influential in his time. Muchas writhing line, decorative flattening, pastel colors, and astronomical references were a language he could deploy for almost any product. His lovely women with their long necks. hairpieces of flowers and the occasional halo were charming and elegant
In the 1960's he was rediscovered and his work was again influential. Psychedelic art rifled his ideas. When you see the art of Peter Max or the Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine, those are 1960's rehashing of Muchas ideas.
Rock music albums and the "head comix" of that era used a lot of frankly derivative copies of his work. He was often not credited. But posters of his work becoming available and hanging in college dorm rooms, and black light pharmaceutical recreation areas across the nation made him a popular artist for a few years there.
Mucha returned to Prague in the 1920's and began work on a series of enormous paintings in a cycle entitled The Apotheosis of the Slavs. They were unknown to us in the 60's, so I will return to them later. They were thought dangerously nationalistic by the invading Nazis in the thirties. In 1939 immediately after the invasion by Germany, Mucha was arrested by the Gestapo and questioned ruthlessly. His health failed and although released, he died of a lung ailment shortly thereafter, certainly as a result of his mistreatment at Nazi hands.
images courtesy of artrenewal.org. Go check em out, the links in my sidebar, great site!