Thursday, September 06, 2012

Alphonse Mucha in person

At the end of July I visited the National Czech and Slovak museum in Cedar Rapids Iowa. I drove by it every year on the way to Anime Iowa and always wondered about it. So when I heard they were holding a major Alphonse Mucha exhibit for their grand reopening just when I would be in town I was excited. We usually don't get exhibits of my idols anywhere in the midwest.

Just before the exhibit opened, the entire building had been moved to higher ground after suffering damage during the 2008 flood. The museum is located in the Czech Village Area which is right next to the river. The museum has worked hard on restoring many of the textiles that were damaged during the flood and those are also on display right now.

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The Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau exhibit is the largest exhibit in the United States since 1999 and includes original lithographs, oil paintings, photographs, sketches, and jewelry.

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If you are an artist or art lover in the Midwest I highly recommend taking a trip to see it. Even though we see reproductions in books and posters all the time, it doesn't compare to seeing the real thing.

I almost cried when I looked into the eyes of the small self portrait painting near the entrance. I had no idea the original Sarah Bernhardt posters were life size. They towered over my head and when I looked closer I was amazed to see all the different colored metallic inks that were used in the printing process. Besides the commercial posters, there were many personal photographs, studies and oil paintings of family members. A set of elaborately embroidered Slovak costumes used for models were on display. I strained my eyes at the tiny studies with even tinier ink lines. My personal favorites were many of the oil paintings. There is just something about the colors and lighting used.


If you have time afterwards, check out (czech out?) the Czech bakery located a block away for Kolaches and fruit filled cookies. I was surprised to see the cookies we make every Christmas. They're good if you've never had them, but I'm pretty sure my mom's recipe is better :)

Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau
National Czech and Slovak Museum
Cedar Rapids Iowa
July 14 - Dec 31