As I said earlier, I have always aspired to see a Klimt exhibition. It’s a dream that I thought will remain just that – a dream.
I’d almost done it in Vienna, Venice and few forgot-the-name cities but it would always fall through as the opportunity, simply, is not there. So how half-ecstatic, half-resigned I was when we arrived in Paris earlier this month and there I saw the yellow banner on the Metro, announcing the Klimt exhibition at The Pinacotheque to start on 12th February. Half-ecstatic because it is actually going to happen, half-resigned because I probably won’t be here to see it. But pure luck was about to be on my side – H decided that we have to stay in Paris for a bit longer and that means, I will be here when it opens!
So I’m here to talk about it and I’m still over the moon! I bought my ticket (16.50euros) online as I expected the queue to be kilometric, indeed it was and I was lucky not to have to stand up there for hours, but I felt a bit ripped off as the cost of the ticket indicated on the door is only 14euros! Oh well, at least I did not freeze waiting in line like the others , I actually went straight in like a VIP.
Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) was one of the most famous painters of Austria who also co-founded the Secession Movement (Art Nouveau style) in Vienna. The exhibition entitled “In the Time of Klimt, The Vienna Secession” demonstrates the development of the Viennese Secession in the 19th century by displaying selected works of the artist (and some others). Some of these works are less known to the world and I’m glad I saw them in their original state.
Ernst Klimt (Gustav’s brother), Portrait of a baby on a sofa wearing a lace cap, 1885, oil on canvas, private collection
Ernst Klimt – Francesca da Rimini and Paolo. 1890. Oil on canvas. Belvedere, Vienna
Gustav Klimt, Study of a female head on a red background, 1897-1898, oil on canvas, Klimt Foundation, Vienna.
Klimt has focused all his attention on the female figure, depicting them partly as sexual objects and partly as supreme beings
Gustav Klimt, Woman on the chimney, 1897-1898, oil on canvas, 41 x 66 cm. Belvedere, Vienna.
Gustav Klimt, Portrait of a young girl, c. 1898, oil on cardboard, 38 x 34 cm. Private collection, Belvedere, Vienna
Gustav Klimt, standing female nude with a raised arm (Niké), about 1898
Gustav Klimt, Judith, 1901, oil on canvas, 84 x 42 cm, Belvedere, ViennaGospel of Matthew 14:6-11 But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him. But she being instructed before by her mother, said: Give me here in a dish the head of John the Baptist. And the king was struck sad: yet because of his oath, and for them that sat with him at table, he commanded it to be given. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
And his head was brought in a dish: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body, and buried it, and came and told Jesus.
Klimt painted the biblical character of Judith holding the severed head of Holofernes. She is depicted here as a femme fatale. She looks down on the viewer, her mouth voluptuously open and with her right hand she strokes the hair of Holofernes.
This is the painting that left me totally spellbound! Imagine getting the chance to look up close at one of the most famous paintings in the planet. It’s just a shame that photography is not allowed, but having said that, I stared at it like there’s no tomorrow, taking note at every single detail of the painting, the gilded frame, the engravings on it where etched the words “Judith” and “Holofernes”.
Gustav Klimt – Feu follet, 1903. Oil on canvas, 52 x 60 cm
– ° – ° – ° – ° – ° – °- ° – ° –
In 1902, Klimt created one of his most famous works, the Beethoven Frieze, for an exhibition of the Secession movement. The entire show was an homage to Ludwig van Beethoven. Klimt’s monumental frieze greeted visitors in the entrance hall. Thirty-four meters wide and two meters high is this opulent, ornamental “symphony”; in which Klimt sought to immortalize Beethoven’s “Ninth” and its interpretation by Richard Wagner. (wien.info)
Gustav Klimt, Reconstruction of the Beethoven Frieze, 1985 Mixed media on plaster stubble, 216 x 3438 cm. Belvedere, Vienna
This copy of the “Beethoven Frieze” was absolutely amazing! Staring at the work reproduced on the walls of the Pinacotheque put me on the same state as if I was listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Incredible.
My only disappointment is that, “The Kiss” is not there, unfair! Oh well, the next time I go to Vienna, I must go and see it. At least, I bought a big poster of it that time and I am going to frame it – in wood painted in gold – and display it in my sitting room!
“Whoever wants to know something about me – as an artist which alone is significant – they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” – Gustav Klimt