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Gustav Klimt: Women, the secession, World War and death

Gustav Klimt: Women, the secession, World War and death

The paintings Judith and Salome illustrate his passion for the femme fatale.

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  • IBNLive.com
  • Last Updated: July 14, 2012, 10:33 PM IST
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New Delhi: Gustav Klimt no doubt felt very much at ease in the company of women. Living with his mother and sisters, he chose Emilie Floge as his life's companion of many years; he was constantly surrounded by models in his studio and was much sought after as a portraitist of ladies of the high society.

Six hitherto entirely unknown love letters Klimt addressed to Emilie Floge between 1895 and 1899 reveal important information about his relationship to the future fashion designer.

Klimt's portraits of women number among his most acclaimed groups of works. The paintings Judith and Salome illustrate his passion for the femme fatale.

The panel in the Beethoven Frieze depicting two embracing lovers and the world-famous painting The Kiss address fulfillment through the power of love. "Erotic renderings of the naked female body are a recurring motif in his paintings, yet during his lifetime Klimt mostly met with criticism and indignation for his female portraits. He was ahead of his time," Alfred Weidinger, deputy director of the Belvedere and curator of the exhibition, explains.

It is particularly his portraits of ladies, now famous around the globe, that visualise Klimt's stylistic development.

Another section in the anniversary exhibition highlights the Vienna Secession, an institution co-founded by Klimt out of his frustration with the conservative attitude of the Austrian Society of Visual Artists. For Ver Sacrum, the Secession’s periodical, Klimt made numerous illustrations.

The anniversary show also deals with the artist’s Golden Period, which climaxed in Kiss. Finally, the exhibition sheds light on the last phase of Klimt's career, which came to an end when he died during World War I, while a presentation of his contemporaries points out further developments in Austrian art.

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