History: Mona Lisa stolen in 1911

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History: Mona Lisa stolen in 1911

On this day in 1911, the famed Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen by a Louvre employee. It was recovered 2 years later in December 1913 in Italy.

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Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

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Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

On this day in 1860, the talented Czech Art Nouveau poster artist, illustrator and designer was born. Mucha initially worked as a theatrical scene painter in Vienna before a benefactor discovered his talents and financed his art studies in Munich and Paris. Mucha stayed in Paris where he designed his first posters. His breakthrough came in 1894 when he created the famous Gismonda poster starring Sarah Bernhardt. The actress was so impressed with Mucha’s work that she offered him a 6-year contract which paved the road for the artist’s subsequent success. Over the next 15 years, Mucha became the model Art Nouveau artist, creating posters, advertisements, calendars, postcards, and magazine and book illustrations. His work typically featured beautiful women surrounded by elaborate flowers. Mucha returned to live in Czechoslovakia around 1910 where he produced his masterpiece, a set of 20 mural paintings, the Slav Epic, depicting the history of his nation. He died in 1939, several months after being arrested and interrogated by the Nazis, following Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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Today in History: “Degenerate Art” exhibition opens in 1937

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Today in History: “Degenerate Art” exhibitions opens in 1937

On this day in 1937, the infamous Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibition in Munich, Germany. Organized by Adolf Ziegler and the Nazi Party, the exhibition presented some 650 paintings, sculptures and prints by over 100 (primarily) German artists, incl.  works by famous artists such as Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde and Kurt Schwitters. The “degenerate” works were defined as art that was insulting to any artistic skill and feeling. Even the presentation of the artworks by the Nazi regime was intentionally chaotic: the chosen venue was dark, rooms were very narrow. Paintings were displayed without frames; many were accompanied (or partially covered) by derogatory slogans. The “unhealthy” modern art presented an image of chaos that stood in stark contrast to the Nazi ideal of male heroism or the glorification of the womanhood. Over one million people attended the exhibition in the first six weeks alone. The display lasted until November 30, 1937.

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Today in History: Marilyn Monroe born in 1926

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Today in History: Marilyn Monroe born in 1926
Today is the birthday of American actress, model and sex-symbol, Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson). A supporting role in the film “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) marked Monroe’s breakthrough in Hollywood. Films like “Niagara” (1953), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), and “Some Like It Hot” (1959) made her to one of the most successful movie stars of the 1950s.Monroe was found dead from a drug overdose on August 5, 1962 in her home in Brentwood, California. She was 36 years old.

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Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

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Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

The acclaimed Swiss decorative poster artist would turn 176 years old if he were still alive today. Grasset (25 May 1845 – 23 October 1917) studied drawing and architecture and worked as a painter and sculptor before he moved to Paris in 1871. It was not until the late 1870s that Grasset became interested in graphic design. He created  his first posters in the mid- to late-1880s. Grasset was famous for his classical portrayal of women. His poster works are considered cornerstones of the Art Nouveau movement.

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Today in History: Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday

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Today in History: Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday

On this day in in 1962, Marilyn Monroe performed a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for President John F. Kennedy for his 45th birthday during a fund-raiser at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The two were believed to have been engaged in an affair. The dress she wore that night was noted for being sheer and flesh colored with 2500 rhinestones sewn into it and designed by Jean Louis. The dress sold in 1999 at auction in New York for over US$1.26 million.

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Today in History: Ireland Bans Smoking in Workplace

Cigars, ca. 1955

Today in History: Ireland Bans Smoking in the Workplace

In 2004, Ireland becomes the first country to ban smoking in all workplaces. Contrary to initial concerns, the ban had no adverse economic effects, and soon several other countries passed similar legislation. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco smoke is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally.

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Today in History: Art Nouveau conquers Vienna in 1918

Art Nouveau, ca. 1900

Today in History: Art Nouveau conquers Vienna in 1918
On this day in 1918, the first exhibition of the “Secession” art movement opened in Vienna. This Austrian artists’ association wanted to set itself apart from the established art business and created the basis for the Viennese Art Nouveau.

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Today in History: German Green Party formed in 1980

Today in History: German Green Party formed in 1980

In the 1970s, environmentalists and peace activists politically organized amongst thousands of action groups. The political party The Greens (German: Die Grünen) was founded on January 12/13, 1980 in Karlsruhe to give this movement political and parliamentary representation. Opposition to pollution, use of nuclear power, NATO military action, and certain aspects of industrialized society were principal campaign issues.

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History: Henri Matisse born in 1869

Today in History: Henri Matisse born in 1869

On this day in 1869, French painter and sculptor Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse was born.

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