The unknown paintings.
Alphonse Mucha – Art Nouveau Visionary
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Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) is the visionary master of Art Nouveau. Born in what is now known as the Czech Republic, Mucha had his artistic breakthrough in Paris in 1895 with his posters of the world famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. Mucha’s extensive work consists of prints, paintings, drawings and design objects of global fame.
Since 1910, Charles R. Crane, an American millionnaire financed the highlight of Mucha’s artistic work: “The Slav Epic”. This series of 20 monumental paintings focusses on the history of Slavs. The film discovers these widely unknown paintings in a Moravian castle.
Director: Susanna Boehm
Genre: art documentary
Duration: 2 x 26 mins. | 52 mins.
original title Alfons Mucha – Visionär im Jugendstil
writer & director Susanna Boehm
music Geraldine Mucha performed by the Czech Nonet
photography Thomas Kutschker | Marcus Winterbauer
montage Regina Bärtschi
sound Boris Jöns | Julia Rieck
sound mix Julia Rieck | Martin Offik
lighting Pavel Pospíšil
grip Miloš Trnka | Michal Procházka
video post-production Manfred Hielscher
voices Dulcie Smart | Robin Gooch | Peter Scollin
production assistant Andrea Kuserau
location managers Jirí Merunka (CZ) | Reinhard Lorenz (D) | Caroline Roussell (F)
second location managers Matej Cerný | Michaela Ottová | Frederique Lambert
production managers Michael Krause (maxim) | Wolfgang Kramer (NDR) | Petr Nezval (CT)
executive producer Peter Roloff
commissioning editor Ulrike Dotzer – NDR
production maxim film in co-production with NDR and Ceská Televize – CT
in co-operation with ARTE with kind support of the Mucha Foundation
Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) is the visionary master of Art Nouveau. Born in what is now known as the Czech Republic, Mucha had his artistic breakthrough in Paris in with his posters of the world famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. In 1900 the new style’s name was not Art Nouveau but Style Mucha. Mucha’s extensive work consists of prints, paintings, drawings and design objects of global fame. His masterpieces are widely spread up to present time.
Geraldine Mucha, the composer and daughter-in-law of Alfons Mucha accompanies us through the documentary – both with her charming personality and her music. For this film the Czech Nonet has exclusively performed three of Geraldine Mucha’s recent compositions.
Geraldine Mucha resides in Prague’s Hradschin in the very studio she inherited from Alfons Mucha – with all his paintings and materials virtually untouched and totally intact. Geraldine Mucha shows us around her place, opening all cabinets and drawers to reveal original paintings, studies and Mucha’s enormous photo archive, documents never shown before. These materials are completed with historical film clippings: Mucha working at his “Slav Epic” and the private Alphonse with his family.
In the art-world Mucha’s work is sometimes regarded as naive and even Kitsch – maybe unjustly. Starting in Paris his works were triumphantly welcomed both in Europe and the United States. Mucha’s exhibitions in Brooklyn and Chicago had more than 600.000 visitors. His works are still very popular until today, his poster prints reaching high numbers of copies.
Sarah Bernhardt’s eccentricity had its influence on Mucha: he used to wander around in slavic costumes, being a highly exotic party slicker at the same time. Mucha’s own believes were of deeply humanist character. Alfons Mucha was always vigorously searching for human sincerity and the meaning of the modern days’ dynamic activities. Mucha reinvented the original means of Art Nouveau: the healing effects of pure beauty, the continuation of traditions and the merging of various different arts and crafts.
The charming young girls on Mucha’s posters and paintings alike are glorified, celestial beings. On the other side of his emotional scale Mucha took photographs of the ecstatic movements of a hypnotized model and applied these experiences onto his darker paintings and pastells. Mucha was fascinated by modern technique, at the same time searching for answers in freemansoning, in spiritism, occultism and the mystical, symbolic world of his slavic homeland. These roots became more and more the main source of both his graphic and his paint work. Since 1910 the American multi-millionnaire, freemason and slavophil Charles R. Crane financed Mucha’s Gesamtkunstwerk “The Slav Epic”, a series of 20 monumental paintings focussed on the emerging world of the Slavs.
“The Slav Epic” is the highlight of Mucha’s artistic work. These gigantic paintings (up to 6 by 8 meters) are exposed to the world in a rottening renaissance castle in the Czech hinterlands – virtually unrecognised by the world. With his “Slav Epic” Mucha created a totally new and dark side of Art Nouveau. Future generations were intended to thoroughly learn through the endless story of suffering of the Slavic people. The coming generations should focus their lives on the meaning of honesty, bravery, idealism und human fate.
The paintings of the “Slav Epic” are so highly impressive because of their colour composition, their artistic perfection, abundance in detail and their meditative expression. The impact of stage-like scenes is strengthened by real people in the foreground, the spectator feels like being in the painting itself.
With his “Slav Epic” Alfons Mucha intended to allow the Slavs and the whole world a peek into the mirror of the past – and to give them hope for the future. He donated the paintings of the “Slav Epic” to the city of Prague. The city council promised to build an exhibition hall for the paintings. This did not happen until today. The Czech Republic prefers to leave the paintings unknown and unrecognised. Is the “Slav Epic” still too controversial to be shown in the capital of Prague?
Art Nouveau Exhibition at the art museum Kunsthalle Mannheim
October – December 2015
1. part: June 5th 2004
2. part: June 12th 2004
NDR, Germany | CT, Czech Republic | Finland | Norway | Netherlands | Spain | Poland
International Festival of Films on Art in Québec, Canada
Pärnu Film Festival – Estonia
DVD available at
german united distributors Programmvertrieb GmbH
contact: Anika Schneider
Breite Str. 48-50
Fon: +49 (0221) 920 69-22
Fax: +49 (0221) 920 69-69