Friday, February 14, 2014

Gustav Klimt in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession


Museo Correr, Venice," Gustav Klimt in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession" 24 Mar 2012 - 8 Jul 2012
Belvedere, Vienna "150 Years Gustav Klimt - Jubilee Exhibition" from Jul 13, 2012 until Jan 27, 2013

After a century of his acclaimed participation at the Venice Biennale (1910), Gustav Klimt returned to the lagoon as the protagonist of a remarkable exhibition to be held in the rooms of the Museo Correr. A glorious occasion to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth (1862-2012), the exhibition is a joint production of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the Belvedere Museum of Vienna, in collaboration with 24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 ORE and Arthemisia Group. The curator of the exhibition is Alfreid Weidinger, one of the leading experts on the Austrian artist.

Gustav Klimt in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession
– the title chosen for the Venetian event – will display an exceptional cycle of paintings, rare and precious drawings, furniture and elegant jewelry, but also elaborate reconstructions and interesting historical documents, whose purpose is to introduce the visitor to the genesis and evolution, in both architecture and painting, of Klimt’s work and of those who gave rise to the Viennese Secession, an instance of that European Modernism that witnessed among its key players such figures as Minne, Jan Toorop, Fernand Khnopff, Koloman Moser, and above all the companion of many intellectual ventures and projects, Josef Hoffmann.

Precisely his collaboration with Josef Hoffmann, architect and interior designer, whom Klimt met in Vienna while the first buds of the Sacred Spring were blooming, is one of the main themes of the exhibition, which seeks to show how in a very short time these two remarkable figures, the artist and the architect, were capable of sharing commissions, clients, friends; but above all, it reveals their spasmodic tension towards the Gesamtkunstwerk, that is, “the total work of art”. The highest point of the utopian realization of this concept can be seen in the

Beethoven Frieze (1901-1902)

and in the decorations for Brussels’ Stoclet Palace, both of which will be showcased at the Venice exhibition.

The exhibition thus told the story of the fertile liaison between these Pioneers of the Modern, for whom architecture, painting and the applied arts were combined and became inseparable from one another.

On display in the rooms of the Correr, alongside the cycles mentioned above, were the

Judith I (1901)

and the Judith II (Salome) (1909),

together for the first time, which were acquired at the 1910 Biennale for the Galleria Nazionale Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro, alongside some of the masterpieces from the Vienna Belvedere, the institution owning the largest collection of Klimt’s oils on canvas, and others from public and private collections, including the

Lady by the Fireplace

Portrait of Hermine Gallia (1904),

The Kiss, 1908.

Fritza Reidler, 1906

From a nice review of the Venice show:

My favourite detail of Klimt's "Judith II" was how he drew the hands. I couldn't find a good quality picture of this detail but if you'll ever see this masterpiece please remember my words and pay attention to those magnificent brushstrokes!

The exhibition features a giant facsimile of the Beethoven Frieze, painted by Klimt in 1902 and now on display at the Vienna Secession Building. (above)

I don't think this work needs any introduction, I'm just quoting the exhibition's caption: "The artist leads us into an ideal realm, the only place where we can find pure joy, pure happiness, pure love".
This painting is a metaphor of human condition and it examines the pursuit of happiness, the collision with evil forces, the final discovery of joy and love...

The last canvas is Klimt's "Sunflower", an anthropomorphic form with a symbolical flower in place of the head.

The exhibition also features pieces of jewellery made by Hoffmann and some Secessionist fittings.

I am keen on Klimt and Art Nouveau so I just loved this exhibition. I didn't know I was going to see "Judith I", one of my favourite paintings, so it was an even more pleasant experience!

More images from the exhibition:

Gustav Klimt. Moving Water (1898). Olio su tela. Colelzione privata, courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.