Sunday, March 25, 2012

Art Nouveau - A Magnificent Obsession

This week, while awaiting the delivery of goods ordered at the New York Gift Show this past January, the insomniac  decided to examine her obsession with Art Nouveau in greater detail. In case there is some difficulty figuring out the connection, the delivery included a few Art Nouveau pieces, which is what initiated this train of thought. Bear in mind, the Blogger Profile does mention “incoherent ramblings” and at the time of this writing (4:07 a.m.) the mind is definitely not functioning at full capacity.

Thinking back, the infatuation with Art Nouveau began when the insomniac  first left the nest and relocated to a run-down house in a somewhat seedy neighbourhood. In those early years, decorating style was determined mainly by whatever cast-offs or  hand-me-downs were available. But artwork was where the insomniac  had a chance to truly express herself, as posters were relatively inexpensive Back in the Day (as the offspring are fond of pointing out, quite unnecessarily IMHO). And so, above the second-hand wood veneer bed with the built-in bookshelf headboard (shudder), were posters of the four stars by Alfons Mucha. And if one squinted, tilted the head at just the right angle and tried to focus solely on the three foot high posters, one could almost ignore the unsightly bed. Almost.

Evening Star
   Pole Star   
Morning Star

Years later, the appeal of Art Nouveau has not abated in the slightest. Even though many of the pieces that have been lusted after have been sadly out of reach in terms of budget, well-made reproduction items have been a satisfactory compromise. Hopefully, these reproductions will be handed down and become the expensive and out of reach antiques of the future, and not thrown in a laundry hamper and trundled off to the Salvation Army Donation Centre by the offspring.

This obsession has precipitated two trips to the Czech Republic, where even if one is forced (literally) to leave the most exquisite pieces behind in the antique store, all one need do is walk down any street in Prague and gaze upwards (consequently tripping over cobblestones and running into other tourists) to capture the most magnificent examples in a snapshot. And all of this for free (well, except for the cost of airfare, hotel, food, etc.).

Random building in Prague ...

... another random building ...

... and yet another. Really, they're everywhere ...

Mucha's window in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague ...

One could seriously contemplate apartment living
with a balcony like this ...

Window in the Church of St. Barbara, Kutna Hora ...

This beauty was discovered in a Prague antique shop last fall, but regrettably had to be left behind so the insomniac  and her spouse could continue to eat for the remainder of the trip. In hindsight, a three week fast would have been the better choice.

Maybe she's still there,
waiting patiently for the insomniac to return ...

In lieu of the bust, the insomniac  acquired a seven foot poster of Medea from the Mucha Museum instead; certainly not as impressive but infinitely easier to haul around in a suitcase for three weeks, considering a small bronze Art Nouveau statue was already causing some shoulder issues. The poster is printed in two pieces, as was the original, and is currently awaiting framing by a professional framer. The difficult part (other than coming up with the cash for the framing, which the insomniac  is almost positive will induce massive heart failure) will be to find a wall large enough in the Gothic Mansion to showcase a poster this large.

Medea, 1898

Over the years, the insomniac's  tastes have remained pretty much the same, other than possibly having become more expensive. But many of the acquisitions still reside in the Gothic Mansion to this day, proving that a well considered purchase, no matter how far it may stretch the budget, is well worth the investment. Provided, of course, the object in question doesn't cause endless sleepless nights fretting over the size of the credit card bill, not that one is speaking from experience or anything.

The original Mucha posters are stored in the real third-floor Attic, rolled up and awaiting reuse by one of the offspring (should they ever decide the insomniac  has much better taste than they currently credit her with). The Moon was always the favorite of the four stars and a smaller version is now displayed in the kitchen. Mercifully, the wood veneer bed was chopped up and used for firewood long ago ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... as for the insomniac, currently wide awake and planning her next trip to the Czech Republic. Goodnight, my pretties.


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