Lendl’s unique Mucha collection goes on show in Prague

A much-anticipated exhibition of posters by the Czech Art Nouveau master Alfons Mucha has just opened its doors at the grand Municipal House in central Prague. The collection, which belongs to the Czech-born tennis legend Ivan Lendl, is the largest in the world and is being shown publicly for the first time ever.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Lendl: Mucha is the simple title of an exhibition being described as one of the art events of the year in the Czech Republic. Boasting a collection of posters by Art Nouveau pioneer Alfons Mucha never displayed in public before, it is expected to attract droves of locals and tourists alike.

Pavlína Stránská is the spokesperson for the exhibition.

“It’s the most extensive collection of Mucha’s works for print ever seen anywhere in the world. Visitors will get to see over 150 pieces, mainly including Mucha’s posters, but also calendars, decorative postcards and food wrappings.”

Ivan Lendl has been collecting Mucha’s distinctive posters – many advertising products or theatre performances – since his playing days. His interest began when his collaborator in the project, Mucha expert Jack Rennert, was introduced to the Czech-born tennis star by the artist’s son Jiří Mucha in the mid 1980s.

Over the years, the two have managed to amass 116 of the total 119 posters known to have been created by the artist.

Ivan Lendl, photo: Tomáš PancířIvan Lendl, photo: Tomáš Pancíř Speaking at a news conference to launch the exhibition, Rennert described working with Lendl.

“He was really very different from other individuals and museums that I have built collections for. First of all, he is extremely passionate about collecting the works of Mucha. And secondly, unlike other collectors – who put their collections in drawers and cabinets and tubes – it was always the purpose of Ivan’s collection that he lived with the collection. Every day he saw every one of the works of Mucha in every room of his house.”

Lendl: Mucha is running at the magnificent Obecní dům, or Municipal House, just off Prague’s Náměstí Republiky. It is a wholly appropriate venue, given the painter’s close connections to the Art Nouveau building.

Vlastimil Ježek, the director of Obecní dům, says Mucha is in a sense coming home.

“Mucha is of course present here. He did several of our paintings, a number of stained-glass panes and even drafted the designs for some woven curtains. Mucha, Obecní dům and Art Nouveau are three things that go together.”

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The exhibition runs until July 30 and organisers say there is interest in putting it on in other countries, including Japan, China and Russia, in the future.

Ivan Lendl, today back in the news as coach of Andy Murray, is due to come to Prague to inspect the show in person at the end of this month.