Hello, Mucha …

” The term ‘sign’ includes every picture, diagram, natural cry, pointing finger, wink, knot in one’s handkerchief, memory, dream, fancy, concept, indication, token, symptom, letter, numeral, word, sentence, chapter, book, library, and in short whatever, be it in the physical universe, be it in the world of thought, that, whether embodying an idea of any kind (and permit  us throughout to use this term to cover purpose and feelings), or being connected with some existing object, or referring to future events through a general rule, causes something else, its interpreting sign, to be determined to a corresponding relation to the same idea, existing thing, or law” — C.S. Peirce


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Time flies and lead me back to last year Thanksgiving holiday, upon that time I had the opportunity to spent half a day to go through Mucha’s art pieces and appreciate Mucha’s extraordianry talent “in person”. Alphonse Mucha, the famous Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist who produced many paintings, illustrations, advertisements, interior design, from the giant piece to the tiny stamps, everywhere in Prague I can found the unique Mucha style and taste.  “Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign” (Eco 1976, 7) Through our reading from this week, semiotics appear closer to me and not only just as an academic discipline, each sign can speak, deliver the messages and to evoke the memory even euphotic value (Barches) Today, I want to pick one of my favorite one from Mucha’s Museum in Prague, called ” Zodiac”

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When we thinking about the meaning of sign, it’s maybe comes out many different interpretation. Because the sign is what we produce and individual understanding, the sign is concrete and stable, even it’s international language without any barriers. Looking at the Zodiac lithography from Mucha, the stand out in the picture is the woman with her sophisticated jewelry and the dramatic hair style. Female figure like that is the sign of Mucha and they are very common themes of his artworks. Then we continue to read this painting, there are another identifiable object which is behind the woman’s head is an almost halo-like effect that displays the twelve signs of Zodiac. The linguistic message from this painting is Zodiac? or more in depth? Chandler mentioned from his book “A linguistic sign is not link between a thing and a name, but between a concept (signified) and a sound pattern (signifier)” it’s absolutely not real sound, in here we can explaining by the way we feel or sentimental sense through art piece, it’s  evoking the psycological  sympathy. Looking at the painting, when I recognized they have each zodiac symbol with the detailed paint, the first thing I start is looking for my zodiac which is Libera is in a very middle part. That moment  is what I find the connection between me and Mucha’s painting, and the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (Chandler, 36) Establishing a bridge to make each icon or sign to empower connect with any individual.

Since Zodiac is also symbolized the astrological calendar, the chemical in here is
the history and mystery indicate the variety layers from this painting. The rest of the work is a typical Art Nouveau (new art) design that is a mixture of elegant lines, flowers, and prague_praha_2014_holmstad_st-_vitus_cathedral_katedral_alfsons_alphonse_mucha_jugend_art_nouveau_window_glass_glas_jugend_flottplants a
well as a highly decorative borders. This is another sign and language from Mucha’s work which is fancy
frame or borders, it is a unique Mucham’style exemplifying a cluster of concepts, cultural meaning, and symbolic association. ( Irvine, 9) Art Nouveau means the total art style including the architecture, interior design, furniture, jewelry. That’s why at the beginning I mentioned I can see Mucha’s art everywhere in Prague, because he was participated many cathedral building decoration and government building interior design projects to dedicated his art experience back to his beloved hometown.

Style Mucha is a notable sign in Czech, and established himself as the pre-eminent exponent French Art Nouveau. Mocha’s work is not just labeled as “high art” because he worked in a variety of media and easy accessible to wide audience. He believes everything could be a work of art, from stamp, wallpaper to furniture to wardrobe to the iconic promotional posters around the entire country. This a “prototype” work, the welmunicipal_house_praguel-known forms of expression or representation as embodying to appear and atrract the real audiences. Therefore mentioned Mucha-art is like the nationalist character,because Mucha spent the half of his career focused on the Art Nouveau posters to celebrate the history and mores of Czech culture, he stirred by a pride in his country and dedication with his own belief. “I was happy to be involved in an art for the people and not for private drawing rooms. It was inexpensive, accessible to the general public, and it found a home in poor families as well as in more affluent circles.  By  Alphonse Mucha “

Reference:

  1. Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007.
  2. Irvine, Martin,  Introduction to Visual and Pictorial Semiotics: De-Blackboxing Meaning-Making in Art and Visual Media, Communication, Culture & Technology ProgramGeorgetown University, 2017.
  3. Mucha Foundation, http://www.muchafoundation.org/home
  4. Roland Barthes, “Rhetoric of the Image.” In Image, Music, Text, translated by Stephen Heath, 32–51. New York: Hill and Wang, 1988.
  5. All images locate from Mucha Foundation and Wikipedia