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vintage posters
grand slam tennis
alphonse mucha
american citizen
Prague Tennis Star Is Gaga For Mucha Vintage Posters
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Prague Tennis Star Is Gaga For Mucha Vintage Posters

Ivan Lendl (Worlds #1 Tennis Player 1983) now owns the worlds most complete collection of Alphonse Mucha vintage posters. He's doing a wonderful thing bringing his collection back to his homeland for a showing at the Prague Municipal House in Czechoslovakia.

Tennis Star

For those not up on their tennis history, Lendl was one of the biggies. Some say he was the greatest tennis player ever. His style of power tennis (heavy top spin and strength from the baseline) helped him compete against giant players of the era like Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, and John McEnroe. He became an American citizen in 1992 & remained a contender in the sport until his retirement in 1994.

Poster Collecting Of his Favorite Artist

Lendl pursued Mucha vintage posters with the same determination as he had going after grand slam tennis titles. Now owning over 150 prints that Alphonse Mucha created in the Belle Époque (beautiful era) in Paris. If you haven't guessed yet, Mucha was also Czechoslovakian. This could be one reason why the tennis star has such an affinity for this artist. Another may be that he enjoys the Art Nouveau painting style.

Also, Lendl may be empathetic to the way his fellow country man died. Mucha was interrogated by the Nazi's in 1939 when they invaded Czechoslovakia. Alphonse Mucha was so weakened by the interrogation he contracted pneumonia and died that July.

The Collection of Posters

There are basically two sections of the Mucha vintage posters for this show in Prague. One has to do with advertising art. The other with plays/musicals posters Mucha created. The sexually attractive, young decorative ladies he used naturally in his work were perfect for advertising products. He would have lucrative contracts with printer Champenois (Zodiaque series) and Moet & Chandon (MC) Champagne.

But, it would be Mucha's close relationship with actress Sarah Bernhardt and her theater group that would make him a super star artist of the 19th Century. Some of the plays he designed posters for were Hamlet, La Dame Aux Camelias, Medee from 1896-1899. These are all classics, but just a few he did for the Bernhardt theatre group.

So, as you see Ivan Lendl is a voracious collector of Mucha vintage posters. Lucky for us. Because this is an extraordinary and huge collection from a master that influenced many artists work we enjoy today.

The show is traveling now, but, hopefully we can all share and view these marvelous works in the near future. Ivan Lendl was a winner on the court and now a winner in the art world.


Street Talk

Nice, solid article, Bill. And those are great links--thanks for sharing. I find it interesting that a great deal of the twentieth century was begun in the late-19th--and many of the morals of the late 19th century were carried over into as late as the 1930s and 1940s--it wasn't until the post-WWII world that we see a cementing of our technical and social innovation throughout our culture. So, when sixties art posters were being made 'psychedelic', they were able to achieve that by recycling leading-edge ideas of the late1800s. Much of the hippy-era art was simply a renewal of interest in what was old and underly-appreciated (if underly-appreciated is a word). And there's also the issue of Opium and Absinthe sometimes allowing perceptually shifts equal in far-outness to the eyes of the LSD users. Very few psychedelic artworks were created by people who were actually tripping at the time--but the relative mildness of the older intoxicants allowed artists to capture the wonder of their altered perceptions--plus the ubiquity of photography (starting being popular in Civil War (1860-1864)) by the turn of the last century gave artists an incentive to find something in their art that trumped the flat-out accuracy of photography. Before photography, every artist's goal was to recreate what they saw--the age of Mucha and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was the first time Art was put in the position of having to prove it's value in a world of photography, thus Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract, etc.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Chris, so sorry to not get back sooner. Man, your comments here are complementary and are farsighted and graphic.. I have re-read your text more than a few times. its very good. This (with-in itself) has the content of a great article. The kind I seek out to read, anyway. I would agree on most except maybe the tease of amorality in the Roaring Twenties or Jazz Age that eclipsed the world. it "was the crazy years" as the French put it and who knows if it influenced Aldous Huxley's Brave New World? (reading that now). Based on fact or perception, I can easily buy into the theory of invention of photography and artists competing against that technology, although Ive never thought of it before. Fresh thoughtful content brother - thank you.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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