“Find yourself another profession where you’ll be more useful” – The recommendation given to Mucha by the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, when his application was turned down.
Perhaps best known for his Art Nouveau posters and illustrations, Alphonse Mucha was actually quite dismayed at the fame his commercial art produced. His true passion was in representing the history and spirituality of the Slavic people. He considered Slovanská epopej (The Slav Epic) to be his finest work and had dreamed of creating it from a very young age.
Unfortunately, it was this body of work, in combination with his Slavic nationalism, which eventually led to his demise. The rising fascist force in the mid to late 1930′s denounced his work as ‘reactionary’ and when German troops invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Mucha was one of the first to be arrested by the Gestapo. Although he was eventually released, the events of his interrment resulted in his death in 1939.
In addition to a prolific number of illustrations and posters, Mucha also designed wallpaper, carpets, theater sets and jewelry. His distinctive style was at first called the Mucha Style before being called Art Nouveau. At the time of his death, his style was considered out of fashion, but Art Nouveau has made many reappearances in popular culture since the 1930′s, most noteably in the 1960′s psychadelic poster art.