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  Arts & Living
Art Nouveau of Prague Exhibition March 6-15
Czech Embassy Sponsors Exhibition in National Library
Sarah Bernhardt's play Gismonda

An exhibition of photographs and posters introducing the Czech rendition of Art Noveau will open on March 6, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. at the National Library of Korea's Exhibition Hall, on the 1st floor. The exhibition continues until March 15, 2006.

The style that seized Central Europe at the onset of the 20th century was called Art Nouveau in England and France, Jugendstill in Germany and Sezession or Secese in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

This month a collection of fifteen photographs will be presented, featuring some of the most intriguing details of the Secese architecture of Prague. Photos by Ester Havlová (born 1967) will be accompanied by posters created by Alfons Mucha (1860 — 1939), a Czech painter of world renown, who also played a prominent role in shaping the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau in France.

Prague, which had a population of only 400 000 at the end of the 19th century, was endeavouring to overcome its provinciality and to rival other European cultural centres in artistic and social life. Through its efforts it managed to compete successfully with the cultural meccas of the Austro-Hungarian Empire like Vienna in Austria, Budapest in Hungary and Krakow in Poland.

Artists and architects of Prague quickly embraced and developed the new style, presenting Café Corso as the first Art Nouveau building in the city (completed 1899). Other remarkable examples include the Evropa Hotel (built 1904), the Wilson Railway Station (1901-1909) and the Municipal House (built 1911).

There are dozens of other Art Nouveau houses, palaces or villas in Prague, as well as several bridges built in the same style.

The famous painter Alfons (Alphonse) Mucha, born 1860 in Moravia (the eastern part of the Czech Republic), moved to Paris in 1887 where
he became a huge success after creating a poster for actor Sarah Bernhardt's play Gismonda in 1895.

Mucha then began to create in earnest and produced a prodigious amount of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewellery, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets.

Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful healthy young women in flowing robes, often surrounded by lush flowers.

Although his Art Nouveau style was often imitated, Mucha attempted to distance himself from the movement throughout his life. He maintained that, rather than adhering to any fashionable stylistic form, his paintings came purely from within.

Mucha visited the USA from 1906 to 1910, before returning to the Czech Republic and settling in Prague, where he decorated several landmarks of the city. When Czechoslovakia won its independence after World War I, Mucha designed the new postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents.

Druing this period and for years after Alfons Mucha also worked on what he considered to be his masterpiece. The Slav Epic, a series of huge paintings depicting the history of the Slavic peoples was gifted to the city of Prague in 1928.

Later, at the outbreak of the Second World War, he was arrested and questioned by the German occupiers. He never recovered from the strain of this event and died in Prague soon afterwards.

National Library of Korea address:
60-1, Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, 137-702

Embassy of the Czech Republic in Seoul,,
tel.: 725-6765, 725-6766






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