Unknown Klimt: Love, Death and Ecstasy

Things to do, Exhibitions
Portrait of a Young Woman by Gustav Klimt
© Etsy

Time Out says

It’s always heartening to know that there is an “unknown” side to an artist whose major works adorn everything from paper napkins to tea trays. Indeed the exhibition’s subtitle suggests that there may well be more to Klimt’s flamboyantly decorous art than initially meets the eye. It’s certainly one of the great paradoxes of changing tastes that an edgy and at times unsettling modern painter like Klimt has ended up being the undisputed king of the gift shop, his eroticized pictures swirling their way across the kind of coffee mugs that we hurriedly buy for family members as last-ditch presents. The dominant figure of the Viennese art world in the years before World War I, Klimt personified the ambiguities of the age: a salon-guest of emancipated intellectual women, whose portraits he painted with great tenderness and perception; he was also a bit of a satyr who treated his studio models as a revolving harem. The contradictions in Klimt’s work, and the obsessions that drove him to create his astonishingly seductive pictures, will here be revealed through an intriguing selection of sketches, studies and full-size paintings, many of which the gallery-going public might not be familiar with. The exhibition will also explore Klimt’s connection with Rijeka: together with brother Ernst and the older painter Franz Matsch, Klimt painted ceiling and wall paintings for the city’s National Theatre in 1885. It was one of his first jobs after graduating from the Art Academy and – although executed in a neo-classicist manner totally unlike the style that later made him famous – displays a familiar interest in sensuality and narrative drama.


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