Vienna - It is somewhat impossible to escape the fact that Vienna has welcomed back Alfons Mucha when walking in the streets of Vienna. Posters of his colorful paintings are scattered in abundance all over the town.
The exhibit of an artist that will be forever linked to art nouveau in Unteres Belvedere attracts Viennese of all age categories as well as tourists from across the whole Europe. One can hear Spanish, Italian, English and of course, Czech in the gallery.
No other city in Europe is as much enchanted with art nouveau as Vienna is. The complete retrospective exhibit of Mucha displays 250 paintings, posters, sketches, drawings, books, jewelry and furniture and no doubt it will be a great success.
It was also in Vienna where young Mucha started his career as an artist. Born in Moravia, he moved to Vienna to become an assistant painter in a local theatre.
One of the first Slavic artists that earned recognition with the Western critics soon became famous and fashionable.
His floral designs and ornate and arabesque shapes were appreciated not only by artists and art lovers but also by common people who did not follow art very much.
His art appeared in galleries, theatre interiors, living rooms, books as well as on commercial products, such as chocolate and biscuits or jewelry.
Slav Epic and pavilion
In 1900, the Austrian-Habsburg authorities commissioned Mucha to design a Bosna-Hercegovina pavilion, which has been reassembled and displayed for the first time ever in Unteres Belveder.
"We found the panels rolled up haphazardly and piled up in the cellars of a museum in Prague: here, you can see water stains and there, a portrait was cut out of a panel with a boxcutter," museum director Agnes Husslein said AFP agency.
An epic that Mucha dedicated to his fellow Czechs called "The Slav Epic" is also on show in Vienna. It took him long 20 years to make 20 massive paintings that all deal with the history of the Czech nation.
Mucha died in 1939, shortly after being arrested by the Nazis. He was said to be cruelly tortured by the Nazis, which eventually caused his death.
The entrance fee is 13.5 eur and the exhibit lasts through June 1, 2009.