Alphonse Mucha had undeniable influence on the Art Nouveau movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It's even been argued that his style defined that movement. I find that claim a bit much, but these graphic works still form a huge and very enjoyable collection.
This collection features dozens if not hundreds of his graphic works. Although best known for his posters, and especially posters advertising Sarah Bernhardt's performances, he took on many other commercial jobs as well. Perhaps it seems incongruous to see Mucha's languid lovelies dedicating themselves to crackers, perfume, bicycles, or absinthe. Or, perhaps that sampling shows just how the Art Nouveau movement permeated popular culture, right down to their cookie jars. Even in these mundane tasks, however, Mucha conveyed some sense of fantasy and everlasting springtime.
Despite the wide range of works presented here, I was disappointed that these "masterworks" include only graphic works. Mucha also created jewelry, wallpaper, theatrical sets, and even money! He was fiercely patriotic and, when Czechoslovakia won independence, he was commissioned to create its banknotes and postage stamps. Mucha's graphic work was brilliant and remains familiar worldwide. This book does the man disservice by presenting only his graphic work, when he created so much else.
The text describes Mucha's life and, I have to admit, I only skimmed it while soaking in the graphic work. That's where this book's real strength lies, however: in collecting some of the most beautiful specimens of this powerful artist's work.