Mucha in Glasgow
Fuelled with a great sleep and Scottish breakfast complete with haggis and potatoe scone at Doubletree Hilton I headed straight for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. 'People make Glasgow' banners proved true as locals guided what bus to catch and the driver even got off to show me alternative ways past the beautiful Glasgow University or through Kelvingrove park.
In my teenage I was a big Mucha fan with 'Primrose' and 'Feather' a main feature on my bedroom wall,but this exhibition spanned so much more than beautiful haloed women draped in flowers and flowing fabrics their bodies making the characteristic Q shape. There was the advertising in 1898...on one hand a staunch, although provocative, woman advertising Waverley cycles- something healthy perhaps, but next to it was the poster for Job cigarettes so called the 'Great Job' due to its large size, so beautifully executed how could an avant grade Parisian at the time not see smoking as highly fashionable and a way to be part of 'La Belle Époque' , but maybe not something to do whilst riding a bicycle or for long life.
What was evocative was Mucha's intimate pencil drawings of Sarah Bernhardt that led to the wonderful theatre posters of her in Gismonda and Lorenzaccio. Mucha said of working with her that every 'feature of her face, every movement of her clothing was profoundly conditioned by her spiritual need..'
Through the experience of being with Mucha's wonderful creations we begin to see the depth of his work and like any artist the need to make a living, and how his art posters made art nouveau accessible to the person on the street. We learn that his work also encompassed causes like Czechoslovakia's minorities such as Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Silesia and Ruthenia. In 'Russia Restituenda' he also sends a plea to help starving children after the Bolshevik war so his work is not only commercialism to think that would not give room or time to understand the extent of Mucha. Videos show Mucha foundation curator Tomoko Sato showing how Mucha's work has influenced album covers and comica, and his grand daughter Tamsin Ormond speaking of him. The exhibition is beautifully interspersed by Scottish works such as ' Druids bringing in the mistletoe ' by George Henry and EA Hornel and Jesse Manson King's pencil drawings decorating a beautiful Scottishmade Art Nouveau screen with even the dressers viewing windows acting as frames for their faces.