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Gustav Klimt anniversary exhibition comprising 120 works opens at Belvedere

Gustav Klimt, Avenue in the Park of Schloss Kammer, c. 1912. Oil on canvas, 110 x 110 cm. Belvedere, Vienna© Belvedere, Vienna.

VIENNA.- In the anniversary year of 2012, the Belvedere devotes a comprehensive temporary exhibition to Gustav Klimt, the most renowned Austrian painter and a trailblazer of Modernism. Comprising as many as 120 objects, including 30 paintings by Klimt and works by such fellow artists as Egon Schiele, Ernst Klimt, Franz Matsch, Oskar Kokoschka, and Herbert Boeckl, the anniversary show of the largest collection of Klimt’s paintings worldwide explores the genius in seven thematically focused sections: The Company of Artists, Family, Secession, The Golden Period, Landscapes, Female Portraits, and World War and Death. Besides the monumental icon Kiss and such famous masterpieces as Judith and Salome, the new acquisitions Sunflower and Family from the estate of the Viennese art collector Peter Parzer are on view together for the first time. The latter two paintings, which were generously donated to the museum, are to be considered the most important additions to its collection in the history of the Second Republic. Moreover, the Portrait of a Bearded Man, which has hitherto only been known through a reproduction in black and white and has never been shown publicly, is on loan from a private collection. “Gustav Klimt and the Belvedere are an inseparable unity. The reasons are manifold, beginning with the fact that Carl Moll and a group of artists surrounding Gustav Klimt were seeking to create a platform for contemporary Austrian art. In the anniversary exhibition, loans are closing gaps in the Belvedere’s holdings on the one hand and entering into an exciting dialogue with the latter on the other. For the first time in the history of an Austrian federal museum, a tablet computer (iPad) constitutes an integral part of an exhibition,” Agnes Husslein-Arco, director of the Belvedere, points out.

The Belvedere’s Klimt App: A New Horizon of Perception and Plenty of “Moving Images“
Klimt and his masterpieces are conveyed to the spectator through an entirely unprecedented interdisciplinary approach. As soon as visitors approach the respective paintings, the app installed on their iPads easily establishes correlations with the topography of Klimt’s travel destinations and allow them to spatially experience his personal living quarters and the buildings where or for which he created works of art. As Gustav Klimt did not like travelling and rarely went on journeys, the places where he sojourned are few in number and therefore all the more important. To each visitor and everyone interested in Klimt, the Google-Maps-based geomedia “Gustav Klimt World Map” is made available for download via the iTunes Store as a crucial aid. This ensures an entirely new and continuous experience of the exhibition that goes far beyond the visit to the museum and exhibition as such. “iPad3 accompanies visitors on a self-directed multimedia journey through the artist’s oeuvre and life. This multifaceted experience of the exhibition is based on an expansion of the horizon of perception: visitors are enabled to immerse themselves into the works as such, rely on texts as a guideline, obtain background information from audio files, and position themselves on the Klimt map,“ Alfred Weidinger, deputy director of the Belvedere and curator of the exhibition, explains. Thanks to short films supplied by the app, visitors have the unique opportunity of viewing the works of art in the context of the places where they were created. The villas and houses on Attersee inhabited by Klimt, as well as selected buildings and room segments in his native town of Vienna, including the family’s apartments in Burggasse and Westbahnstraße, are thus made accessible.

Klimt Map as a “Casual Guide” – Free Download from the Web
Everyone interested in the Klimt map can download it for free from the Web. In this way, the app functions as a “casual guide” to all the places that were of eminent importance in Klimt’s life even beyond the exhibition. The Google Maps interface integrated in the app enables people to easily find the respective places before and after their visit to the exhibition and also suppplies in-depth information to those interested. The Belvedere’s free Klimt app has been programmed for users of iPhones, iPads, smartphones, and tablets. Moreover, QR codes make it possible to import the contents of handwritten texts and documents that are difficult to read.

On the Way to Modernism with the Company of Artists and Landscape Paintings from the Salzkammergut
The works of the Künstler-Compagnie or Company of Artists demonstrate how Gustav Klimt, his brother Ernst, and their former fellow student, Franz Matsch, took to embracing Modernism. The Family section offers a glimpse of Klimt’s private environment and contains information about his childhood, the poor conditions in which he grew up, and his relationship to his parents, his six siblings, and his own children. Nature played an important role in Klimt’s career as a source for subject matter. Most of the numerous landscape paintings, including Blooming Poppies and Avenue to Schloss Kammer, were painted during the summer holidays Klimt spent on Attersee together with Emilie Flöge’s family. Klimt was an early riser during these summer days: “…I get up early, mostly at 6, a little earlier, a little later – when the weather is fine, I go to the nearby forest – I paint there in a small beech grove… .”

Klimt and Women, the Secession, and World War and Death
Gustav Klimt no doubt felt very much at ease in the company of women. Living with his mother and sisters, he chose Emilie Flöge 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 Flöge 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 fullfilment 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,” Weidinger continues. It is particularly his portraits of ladies, now famous around the globe, that visualize 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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