Alphonse Mucha: Job Cigarettes During the 19th century, many changes were taking place in modern European society, which was noticeable through art at that time. A different kind of style that was moving away from the traditional, standard art that were taught at art academies and was heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement was developed. This “modern” style of art was known as Art Nouveau. Alphonse Mucha was an important figure and had a strong influence in this new style.
Alphonse Mucha had a style that garnered a lot of public attention in America and Europe and it also influenced many artists to mimic what many called the “Mucha style. ” Mucha’s Job Cigarettes poster illustrates the “standard’ of the Art Nouveau style and notes some of the changes taking place in modern society. Alphonse Mucha’s Job Cigarettes was not the first poster that brought him fame and put him in the eye of the public; however, it is a poster that could be said was his best piece. It one of several commercial art ads he did for the rolling paper company known as Job.
It features a female holding a cigarette in one hand. The female has a faint smile with her eyes closed and her head raised a bit high to indicate she is really enjoying her cigarette and perhaps getting some sort of physical or emotional satisfaction from her smoke. She seems to go beyond the border giving this piece a sense of depth perspective. It seems to say that she cannot be contained and that she is free to do as she pleases and enjoy her smoke. She has very long and curly stylized hair that was traditionally used by Alphonse Mucha known as macaroni or vermicelli.
The hair serves as an essential adorning, decorative component of the poster, which also serves to display the sensuousness of the woman and gives it a more aesthetically pleasant look. The smoke from the cigarette flows upwards in a left and right manner which guides the eye from the cigarette to the head of the female and then finally towards the “Job” logo. The poster seems to have a decorative border that was most likely influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. The colors are soft and pastel-like which gives a feeling of serenity and peace.
Mucha’ technique in his Job Cigarettes poster and his treatment of the three main elements, flowing lines, heavy curves, and organic subject matter, which traditionally found in Art Nouveau depicts the standard in this style of art. There are no hard-edged lines found in the main figure of the poster. The only hard-edged line work is found in the ornamented border. Mucha also used heavy and light strokes, which was most likely influenced by Japanese woodcuts/art, throughout the female figure and the smoke. He seems to create a heavier stroke on he outside lines, which creates a sort of silhouette giving it a dynamic feel.
The heavy curves are easily identifiable in the woman’s hair adorning the female figure. They are very long and exaggerated in form, which was traditional of Mucha and the Art Nouveau style. The hair on the female has an organic feel that seems to look like vines or something of that sort. The decorative border seems to frame the whole piece and makes it seem like the woman is leaning outside of a window and into nature to freely enjoy her smoke. As a teenager, Mucha had applied to the Prague Academy of Fine Arts art but was rejected because he did not have the skill to be a “true” artist.
His rejection was even followed up with a note saying that he should find a better profession where he would be more useful. Perhaps Mucha was not the only artist who was rejected in such a manner, which is why many artists probably felt the need to rebel against the traditional style of the Academy, and decided to make art in their own style. They wanted to try something new and move with the rapid changes taking place at that time. One example of change in modern society was the heavy use of posters in commercial art.
Mucha decided to use a lithographic poster for his Jobs Cigarettes ad and it made such a great impression on the Job Company that they actually hire him to create additional advertisement posters for them. Another change with Art Nouveau was the constant presence of female figures in the artwork. Female illustrations played an important factor in advertisements. Artwork was sexually charged to sell market commodities. Although Mucha’s Job Cigarettes poster is not overly sexual, he does use a female figure that seems to be getting some sort of pleasure from the product to sell to consumers.
Mucha’s illustration perhaps seems to show the rise of women’s social position. Mucha shows a female doing what was traditionally a male activity, smoking. As a result of mass production from the Industrial Revolution, there were a lot of mechanical looking objects in society. These massproduced items just made the world look more ugly, generic, and bland. Mucha gathered much influence from the organic shapes and curves from nature and heavily adorns his illustration to bring more beauty, life, and freedom to society.
Alphonse Mucha’s Job Cigarettes poster had a freeing, unique style that was much different than the traditional standards taught at art academies. Mucha’s technique was so evident and admired that the Art Nouveau style was often referred to as the “Mucha style” and highly imitated by other artists. Through his technique, style and subject matter, he comments on the changes occurring in modern society and in art, and it has influenced not only artists from his time but also many other artists today.