New Sculpture Project Brings Alphonse Mucha Posters to Life – artist Arnold Quinn creates bronze sculptures based on poster images

New Sculpture Project Brings Alphonse Mucha Posters to Life – artist Arnold Quinn creates bronze sculptures based on poster images – Brief Article

Lynda Twardowski

SPECIAL REPORT–Art industry veteran Arnold Quinn has undertaken an historic project. Working with John Mucha–grandson of the artist widely deemed to be the father of Art Nouveau, the late Alphonse Mucha–he’s created a series of bronze sculptures based on the legendary posters by the famed artist.

“To be perfectly frank, when Arnold talked about the concept and explained it, it sounded interesting,” said John Mucha. “But deep down I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to work. It’s a major undertaking to convert a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional sculpture.”

No doubt. Alphonse’s devoted attentions to the sensuous curves of women, nature and ringlets of hair would pose a problem in any re-creation. But the shapes and curves one cannot see–the bend of a hidden tree limb, the arc of a hip turned shyly from view–prove near impossible when swelling a flat image to one spanning 360 degrees.

To narrow the margin of error to nil, Quinn and his team of artists halted foundry work on all other commissions, and using only materials Mucha would have employed in 1895, they labored to see, by 1/16-inch increments, what they believed the artist himself would have seen. After sending photos of each interpretive phase to John Mucha for approval, Quinn was satisfied all specifications were met, and with baited breath, sent the product of his first undertaking–a sculpture of Alphonse’s famed “Summer Repose”–to John Mucha.

“I had seen photographs. But photographs are photographs. So when the box arrived, I was truly stunned,” said Mucha. “What he and his team have done is … well, he took a punt, preparing something then sending it to us for approval. As I say, I was not certain how it would turn out, but in fact, it’s quite extraordinary.”

The two agreed to a 20-year license in which Quinn would hold the exclusive rights to create sculptures from Mucha’s original drawings and posters. To ensure the integrity of each piece, The Mucha Foundation, helmed by John Mucha and wife Geraldine, will supervise the selection of images and control final approval of each sculpture. Acquisitions of the pieces will be available only through a limited number of dealers and galleries.

Considering John Mucha hopes to honor roughly 200 of his grandfather’s pieces with Quinn’s sculptures, it’s certainly a gargantuan endeavor. Quinn readily admitted that passion for the period and the artist drives him: “For me, this was the realization of a lifelong dream,” he said.

For John Mucha, the fuel comes from something else entirely: “Madness.” Laughter aside, as the only grandchild of an artist who headed a movement and lived as an icon and patriot to the Czech people, John Mucha easily could have shrugged off the artistic and cultural dynasty Alphonse led and John’s father, Jiri, worked so hard to maintain.

Said John Mucha of his legacy. “I suppose when you’re faced with something like this, you have two possible choices: One is to … go and sell off the things and buy yourself a yacht and have a wonderful time. Or, you could see yourself as a small agent that can make the heritage that Alphonse left available to the world.”

Interested in catching a glimpse of the Mucha Sculptures? “Evening Repose,” “Winter,” “Summer” and “Jobe” will be unveiled Nov. 2 at Artexpo California in San Francisco.

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