Prague Day 2: But Wait, There’s Mucha More

I am never ashamed of terrible art puns.

I woke up early and began exploring again, mostly up the Vltava. I passed by Dvořák’s home and two interesting churches:

Home of Dvořák, Prague

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Prague

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Prague

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But the real point of the day was the Mucha Museum. Alfons Mucha was an Art Nouveau/Jugendstil/Decorative artist from Moravia, and who was one of the most influential artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. You have almost definitely seen his posters, which were his speciality. I have a poster of his “Moon” at home, and I toast it whenever I drink alone because it looks like she’s shocked to see me drinking alone.

His posters caused a sensation in Paris the moment he began making them for actors and actresses, particularly Sarah Bernhardt. He had studied at an art academy in Munich before Paris, and ended up in his middle age in Brooklyn. However, he always wanted to return to Moravia and did. He designed the currency for Czechoslovakia in 1918 when it was founded as a republic and dedicated eighteen years of his life to a massive cycle of paintings dedicated to the history of the Slavs.

His style is quite something. It is almost too perfect, in the sense that the lines on his posters are so well organised and so perfectly made that you almost hate him because of how skilled he was. The women are always gorgeous and placed in poses which compliment them best, and you have to admire the eye he had as well as the talent he possessed. The Museum itself is very nice, and holds a great deal of his pieces. There are also many of his drawings, one of his desks, and so on. I would highly recommend it.

I spent the rest of the day wandering, getting a delicious goulash, and resting my aching feet.

I’d like to throw in a short sort of ethnographic angle into this post. I find Slavic women in general, and Czechs as well, fall into three categories: stunning, ugly, and men-in-drag-as-babushkas. Let me explain briefly.

The stunning category should be obvious enough. This is the category in which all the women look like models and they have very hot accents, the whole nine yards. They look great when they have headscarves to hold their hair back, and look like paintings from the Romantic era, when everyone was obsessed with national looks and national features. No more explanation needed.

Then you have the ugly ones. Slavic women happen to be hit or miss for some reason. I know a lot of Slavs, and I have taken courses from and with a lot of Slavs, and I have been friends with a lot of Slavs and I find this hit-or-miss rule to be applicable in all cases. Either she’s great looking, or she’s absolutely hideous. It’s strange, to be honest.

Then, finally, you have the men-in-drag-as-babushkas. This category mostly applies to older women and some of the younger ones. These are the old ladies who look like they’re scowling all the time, are always angry, and might not be women. You can almost see a beard growing through the wrinkled chins as they scold their grandchildren and make tea to drink out of old china from the 1970s, invariably at a table with a lace drape and terrible floral patterns everywhere. I don’t know how else to explain it. I just realised before that there are very definitely such cleavages amongst women of the ethnicity.

I spent the train ride back to Berlin reading Moby Dick and blasting Die Moldau and Symphony 9 From The New World in my ears. Both pieces paired rather nicely with the landscape as the mountains began to become ever more pointed and ever more rare.

All in all, Prague is a nice place to visit. I would recommend it highly, if you have a translator. Next time, I’m going to have to domesticate a native speaker, preferably a female one, as a translator, since there’s much more to explore than just the old part, but the language barrier was evident only a few hundred metres away from the old town.

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