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Proceedings Paper

Paul Gauguin and the origin of art nouveau
Author(s): John F. Asmus
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Paper Abstract

Since the turn of the century there has been widespread acknowledgement that Alphonse Mucha inspired the birth of the Art Nouveau movement when he created the 'Gismonda' poster advertising the opening of the Sarah Bernhardt play of that name in Paris in 1894. At an estate sale in 1954 a small collage bearing a likeness of the Mucha 'Gismonda' was offered. It was composed of fragments of sixty postage stamps glued to a small ceramic tile. Digital computer image processing has been applied to the collage design, scratches on the handle of a walking stick in the same collection, and the Mucha poster. From comparative analyses of the enhanced 'Gismonda' images it is revealed that the little collage is considerably more detailed and compete than the Mucha 'original'. Thus, it is concluded that the poster is a hasty photographic plagiarism of the intricate collage. Further image processing of the scratches on the handle of the walking stick and the collage reveal them to conform to the famous and enigmatic 'P GO' monogram signature of the artist Paul Gauguin. Thus, it follows that the original design was created by Gauguin rather than by Mucha. It may be that while Gauguin was in Brittany recovering from injuries sustained in a brawl his former lover, Annah la Javanese, pilfered his belongings and took them with her to Paris and her next lover, photographer-designer, Alphonse Mucha, who copied the collage and offered it as the Gismonda Poster.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 October 1997
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 3164, Applications of Digital Image Processing XX, (30 October 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.292775
Show Author Affiliations
John F. Asmus, Univ. of California/San Diego (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3164:
Applications of Digital Image Processing XX
Andrew G. Tescher, Editor(s)

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