Alphonse Mucha the art nouveau master who inspired 1960’s pyschedelic poster art

L 137 Gismonda
Mucha’s poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s Gismonda

It was 120 years ago that the talented but relatively unknown young artist Alphonse Mucha was catapulted to international fame after a chance encounter in a Paris print shop found him designing a poster for superstar actress Sarah Bernhardt.

Such was the power of his work publicising her new play Gismonda that the public clamoured for copies. As soon as the image appeared on the streets of the French capital on New year’s day 1895 people were cutting them from hoardings and bribing bill-posters to hand them over. Bernhardt, at the height of her fame, immediately signed Mucha to a six year contract.

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The strange case of Victor Noir the unlikely martyr who became a sex symbol

Words: Jeremy Miles        Photographs: Hattie Miles

What a bohemian life we lead!  I’m in Paris leaning on a grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery chuckling as my wife photographs a man’s erection. Right! Now I have your attention let me explain. The man in question is in effigy form.

It is the bronze memorial to 19th century journalist Victor Noir, the pen-name of hapless hack Yvan Salmon, who was  gunned down in his prime in 1870 and, for reasons lost in the mists of time, commemorated with a statue that features him in a state of perpetual sexual arousal. Continue reading “The strange case of Victor Noir the unlikely martyr who became a sex symbol”

New Edouard Manet show reveals insights into his portraiture and the world of 19th century Paris

A unique insight into the work of one of the most radical painters of  the 19th century and the creative circles of Parisian society in which he moved is offered in Manet: Portraying Life, the first major UK exhibition to showcase Edouard Manet’s portraiture.

Edouard Manet: The Railway, 1873The National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Edouard Manet: The Railway, 1873
The National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The show,  which highlights Manet’s portraiture, opens at London’s Royal Academy of Arts on Saturday (Jan 26. It examines the relationship between his portrait painting and his scenes of modern life and is already set to break records.  By casting his sitters as actors in his genre scenes, Manet guaranteed the authenticity of the figures that populate his paintings and asserted a new, more potent relationship between Realism and Modernity.

Manet: Portraying Life includes over 50 paintings spanning the career of this archetypal modern artist together with a selection of pastels and contemporary photographs. It brings together works from both public and private collections across Europe, Asia and the USA.

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