Posts Tagged ‘Slavic history’

As far as I know, I have no Slavic blood in me but I do not think you need to be of Slavic heritage in order to appreciate the beauty and majesty of Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic anymore than you need to be of African American heritage to appreciate the Singing Windows at Tuskegee.

They both employ, in vastly different ways, visual storytelling to convey the histories of peoples and their journeys from subjugation to celebration, from despair to hope. As described on the Mucha Foundation website:  “The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej) is a series of twenty monumental canvases (the largest measuring over 6 by 8 metres) depicting the history of the Slav people and civilisation. Mucha conceived it as a monument for all the Slavonic peoples …

The idea of the work was formed in 1899, while Mucha was working on the design for the interior of the Pavilion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian government for the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

In preparation for the assignment he travelled widely through the Balkans, researching their history and customs as well as observing the lives of the Southern Slavs in the regions that had been annexed by Austria-Hungary two decades earlier. From this experience sprang the inspiration for a new project – the creation of ‘an epic for all the Slavonic peoples’ that would portray the ‘joys and sorrows’ of his own nation and those of all the other Slavs. ”

On that website you will find a picture of all 20 paintings, a description of the stories depicted in each painting, and “related objects” which include photographs of Mucha at work on particular canvases, working with models, etc.

I read several reviews that said do not go out of your way to see this exhibit. I would say, if you have the opportunity to visit Prague, do all that you can to go out of your way to view this exhibit.  What struck me? The scale of this creation, the source of the inspiration, the vision of the artist and the dedication to completion. And of course the use of color and the expression of light.

It took Mucha approximately five years to shop his idea around and find a benefactor and then over a dozen years to produce his epic even as he produced all of the other art — the posters, the advertisements, murals, etc. — which are considered his definitive works.

Through December 2016 the exhibit can be found at the Trade Fair Palace in the City of Prague (http://www.ngprague.cz/en/exposition-detail/alfons-mucha-the-slav-epic/) and the online exhibit can be found on the Mucha Foundation website (http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/themes/theme/slav-epic).


Sources & Additional Readings



1925 Article about the Epic as a Work in Progress

a 2010 post about the troubled history of the paintings

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