The exhibition Alfons Mucha: Shaping the Czech Identity celebrates the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 by exploring Mucha´s contribution to the nation´s struggle for national identity and self-determination. The large-screen projection of his Slav Epic, the first postage stamps and banknotes for the newly independent Czechoslovak state and his other work will be on display at Czech Center New York from May 31st to June 22nd, 2018.
Through his work Mucha contributed greatly to creating the image of the First Republic. As a patriot and keen political thinker, he always regarded his art as a means to serve his homeland. His life story and work is, however, inherently associated with the United States of America and the patron Charles Charles Crane. Mucha painted The Slav Epic, a series of large-scale oil paintings summarizing Slav history, at Zbiroh Chateau for eighteen years. However, without the support of Charles Richard Crane, the work may never come to life. An American businessman and philanthropist met the painter in New York City and decided to provide financial support for Mucha's project. He also agreed for all twenty canvases to be dedicated to the City of Prague once finished. Mucha expressed his gratitude by incorporating his portrait of Josephine Crane Bradley, his patron´s daughter, as Slavia in his design for the first Czechoslovak 100 koruna banknote.
It is the banknotes, postage stamps and original drawings and posters that Mucha created for the First Republic (to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Czechoslovakia and the poster for the insurance company Slavia) that you can see at the exhibition. Together with twenty more of Mucha's works, the audience will approach the principle theme linking all Mucha's works - his concept of Czech identity. The Slav Epic, represented via slideshow installation, along with select writings from the Mucha Archive will lead to an understanding of the ultimate message of his work.
The exhibition Alfons Mucha: Shaping the Czech Identity is presented by the Mucha Foundation in cooperation with Czech Center New York and the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in New York.