This episode’s guest is someone who has a background as an artist and has been working in galleries specialised on the period between 1880 and 1920 hosting exhibitions for more than 20 years, Thomas Negovan. Thomas has just published an amazing book on the pinnacle artist of the Art Nouveau movement, Alphonse Mucha and his masterpiece ‘Le Pater: Alphonse Mucha’s Symbolist Masterpiece and the Lineage of Mysticism’, originally illustrated and interpreted in the most occult and hermetic ways by the artist himself.
Thomas was born and raised in a very working class area of the south side of Chicago. From his childhood and teenage years on the post-industrial-revolution period of the late 19th century resonated with him intensely especially because artists of this period expressed a deep interest in mystical thinking and metaphysics. His interest in this period made Thomas even release a wax recording produced without electricity and he cooperated with an artist to create an album cover with wet plate photography. In the show break you’ll be able to listen to an amazing piece from the album that has been recorded just as if we were still in the late 19th century.
Poster for an evening of theater
honoring Sarah Bernhardt (1896)
Zodiac calendar for La Plume (1897)
Growing up, Thomas soon became fascinated with science fiction and fantasy literature and of course with the illustrations featured in those books by artists who were deeply influenced by Art Nouveau. Later he worked for a gallery with a specialisation on this period of time and learned that it was very difficult to get originals. In 1999 Thomas founded the Century Guild Museum of Art in California focusing on the research, preservation and exhibition of Art Nouveau and Symbolist work from Germany, Austria, France and Italy from the Industrial Revolution through the Weimar Republic.
In this episode we will shed some light on this era of decadence and exhaustion after WWI and how the occult revival that started in the 1860s influenced the arts and vice versa. Of course, we will go in depths on why Thomas intended to publish this incredible book ‘Le Pater’ in the first place, discuss why Alphonse Mucha’s work seems to be ubiquitous but his name not as much, what exactly characterises his art and why whole generations of comic book artists seem to be obsessed with him.
Understandably, ‘Le Pater’ will take up quite a lot of space in our conversation, we will talk about its creational process and shed some light on Mucha’s motivation to present a series of artworks that have a highly occult and hermetic background.
Thomas’ edition of the ‘Le Pater’ will be our guide to understand Mucha’s intentions with his art as he spent 20 years of research on a popular artist whose masterpiece was not present so much nowadays. As a publisher Thomas wanted to recreate the original print as closely as possible, so the result is simply mind-blowing presenting itself in a 12’’x16’’ format (hardcover and limited edition, already available) and a slightly smaller 9’’x12’’ format (paperback, available in March). Don’t miss out on the publisher’s website!
Music played in this episode
Today’s musical choice is programmatic for the subject of the episode:
In the break of the interview, my guest, Thomas Negovan, performs two songs, the latter being recorded on a wax cylinder, without the help of electricity, like it would have been recorded at the time of Alfons Mucha.
The other two pieces are classical music, both related to the Moon, the first representing the time and style when Alfons Mucha lived and worked in Paris, the last one from his home country Czechoslovakia, as it was named when he returned there from Paris after World War I
Painting by Alfons Mucha to illustrate the Fairy Tale “Rusalka”