Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Gustav Klimt: Breaking Away
Readers who have followed this blog over the years know that I have a quiet obsession with something called the Wiener Werkstatte. It was a community of artists in Vienna that grew out of the Vienna Secession, itself a larger expression of the Arts and Crafts movement beginning in the late 19th century. My fascination with this theme began during a semester of cultural history focusing on organic form and function in urban planning and design. I'll leave it to you to find the linkages.
The important item today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the most significant members of that Secession, Gustav Klimt. He is described as a symbolist painter, one who focuses on mysticism and imagination. His Wikipedia entry describes his early work as academic, a characteristic he gradually left behind following a life-long relationship with Emilie Floge that began when he was 28. Many art historians claim he captured their love in this 1907 painting, The Kiss:
It is probably not as familiar as this painting, also from what is called Klimt's "Gold Period":
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) has an amazing history involving Nazi looting, museum purchase, decades of litigation, $135,000,000, art world disgust, a book, and five films, including one to be released later this year.
There is much more to Klimt than the golden paintings. If you look at the body of his work it's easy to see how he continues to exert a broad influence on material culture and imagination a century after his death.
The Kiss, Austrian Gallery Bevedere, Vienna
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202
Klimt Painted Much More Than 'The Woman In Gold', Colton Valentine, Huffinton Post, July 14, 2015