Proponents of the Art Nouveau movement of the late 1800s sought escape from the limitations of past traditions, and they achieved it by creating a new style. By applying this style to all forms of creativity, they hoped to eliminate the separation between art and craft. Alphonse Mucha did just that by treating the poster, humbly temporary and commercial, like a canvas. The JOB cigarette paper being advertised also represents literal escape. Despite Mucha’s use of an idealized female in this poster, respectable women of the nineteenth century did not smoke. This pleasure belonged to men, who could use it as an excuse to retreat into smoking rooms and the company of male friends.
(Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, CC BY 3.0).