Alphonse Mucha at NC Museum of ArtKristen Dettoni
On a recent visit to North Carolina, I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh to see their exhibit Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau Visionary. This exhibit is on display through January 23, 2022. When I lived in North Carolina in the 1990s, this museum was one of my favorite spots to visit for inspiration. In fact, during that time there was an exhibit of Mucha’s work. I loved the show so much, I bought a small poster from the gift shop which I still have today. I was so excited to see that another Mucha exhibit happened to be on view while I was in town for the Digital Textile Printing Conference.
Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) was influential to the Art Nouveau movement.
I have always been a fan or Art Nouveau. I appreciate its bold graphics and rich use of patterning. Mucha creates beautiful forms in his designs and employs a gorgeous color palette. In particular, his use of gold makes his work, and the galleries they were displayed in, feel like they’re glowing. I love the way he incorporates so much pattern into his images. It adds a whole new layer of dimension to his work. Whether he’s designing a poster for Champagne or cigarette papers, color, form, and pattern work together to create a natural elegance.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum hosted a block printing workshop.
The weekend I was visiting, there happened to be a block printing workshop offered at the museum. I am not new to block printing but will always jump at the chance of taking a class. You never know what new technique you will learn or who you will meet. This proved true! The instructor taught a totally different way to block print than I had done in my own work or at a previous workshop in Portugal. In this class, we placed the block we had carved on the table and put the paper on top of the block. Previously, I had only ever put the paper or fabric flat on the table and printed with the block in my hand.
As for my design, Mucha and the exhibition itself inspired it. The museum did an excellent job of moving people through the exhibit. In places, additional elements were constructed for the space, always with an art nouveau feel to them. For example, there were quotes by Mucha on walls throughout the galleries, each framed with a beautiful piece and a wall painted with bold lines intended to be used as a selfie station. These elements enhanced the entire experience.
This inspired the small design I created in the workshop. First I drew a frame with Art Nouveau graceful lines and soft edges. Then within the frame, I drew a stylized flower motif. When it was time to print, I tried experimenting with the different inks. Creating in a small group with other artists also offers the opportunity for inspiring each other. I loved seeing some of the other participants mixing inks to creating ombres and subtle gradations.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau Visionary is on display through January 23, 2022. I highly recommend seeing if there are any special programs happening while you’re visiting and letting the art of Alphonse Mucha inspire work of your own. We love being inspired at museums. Have you seen any good exhibits lately? Let us know so we can check them out.
Will this block design find its way into a Design Pool pattern? Who knows, but the inspiration from the show will definitely keep me creating.