curio cabinet The PhoTograPhic SkeTchbook of Alphonse MuchA Self-portrait with poster for Sarah Bernhardt, in his studio, rue du Val de Grâce, Paris (c. 1901) © Mucha Trust 2016 For art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, owning a camera was like having a harmonium. He barely knew how to use either one, but they were both great fun. While his skill on his portable keyboard remained rudimentary, he became increasingly proficient at taking photographs. First there were playful candid shots of friends--Gauguin in a negligée at the keyboard, fellow artists in Moravian hats and Renaissance costumes-- but the photos became more skillful and purposeful. Hiring models to pose for him was expensive. He discovered he could take photographs and use them later to finish the details of his drawings and pastels. Like a theater director, he staged photographs of both costumed and nude models, improvising a number of poses and gestures to express his philosophical ideas about beauty and goodness. The result was a catalog of variations, a photographic sketchbook, from which he selected and synthesized images when working on new commissions. Mucha spent more than two decades living on lentils and beans and rationing coal in winter as
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Jan 5, 2016
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