Gustav Klimt has been one of the most controversial yet widely appreciated painters. While the artist passed away in the early 20th century, Gustav Klimt’s artworks continue to enthrall and surprise art lovers to date. Undoubtedly, exhibitions of Gustav Klimt paintings are something that one always looks forward to.
As we write this article, one such exhibition of the best of Gustav Klimt’s artworks is currently on in Rome. Here’s all you need to know about the exhibition, where to visit it, and what to expect. But first, for those who are uninitiated, let’s give you a little background about Gustav Klimt and Gustav Klimt’s art.
About Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt was a prominent artist of Australia origin, born in 1862. He was one of the leading lights of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt has always been known not just for paintings, but there’s also a wide variety of Gustav Klimt drawings, murals, sketches, and other pieces of art.
However, in most of Gustav Klimt paintings, the female body has been his primary subject of focus. No doubt, Gustav Klimt had a tinge of eroticism in them. Beyond a great lineup of portraits, the maestro has also painted some landscapes.
About the Exhibition
The current exhibition in Rome is divided into 14 different sections, depicting various stages of Gustav’s life and career. The exhibit’s focus is the iconic “Portrait of a Lady” from 1916, which has a history of being stolen.
The exhibition also throws light on Klimt’s role as co-founder of the Viennese Secession. Interestingly, this is the first time that this exhibition has established the relationship between Gustav and his work with Italy.
What to Expect?
The exhibition showcases the “Portrait of the Lady” that had been missing for the last 23 years. Its central attraction, one must note that it displays over 200 pieces of art in all! A humongous exhibition, for that matter!
These 200 artworks on display include Gustav Klimt drawings, paintings, posters, and sculptures, and typical Gustav Klimt art both by Klimt and those in his circles. A good proportion of these pieces have been loaned from the prestigious Belvedere Museum in Vienna and a few others from the Klimt Foundation. We have listed some prominent of these paintings that you will undoubtedly adore when you visit the exhibition.
Some Popular Paintings at Display
Portrait of a Lady
Portrait of a Lady was painted by the famous Gustav Klimt towards the end of his life, during 1916-17. And it was acquired by the Galleria Ricci-Oddi in the year 1925.
On the surface, it depicts the portrait of a female figure flashing a lively expression which is not typical of the Gustav Klimt style of painting. However, when an X-ray analysis of the painting was done in 1996, it revealed that this portrait is an overpainted version of Klimt’s lost work Portrait of a Young Lady (in a hat and with scarf), which disappeared in 1917.
And guess what? It is believed that this original portrait was that of Gustav’s love interest, a woman who died suddenly, and hence he painted over the work. Interesting, isn’t it?!
Popularly called Judith I, the painting’s actual name is Judith and the Head of Holofernes, which also throws light on the actual subject of the painting. It depicts one of the essential characters from the Bible, Judith, beheading the Holofernes and holding the head in his hands – a subject that became quite popular in the post Renaissance era. Quite an intense and overwhelming depiction! The painting was completed in 1901.
Friends I (The Sisters)
‘The Sisters’ or ‘Friends I’ is another one of the masterpieces to have come out from Gustav’s strokes. The painting depicts two elegant Viennese ladies donning equally bright winter clothes. This one is unique in terms of being a double portrait, as against portraits depicting individual figures in most of Gustav Klimt’s artworks. ‘The Sisters’ was completed in the year 1914, and it continues to be one of the most liked and appreciated works of Gustav.
As is widely known about Gustav Klimt, portraits of women have always been one of his dear themes. The Bride, no doubt, is an extension of Gustav’s fondness for this theme.
The painting shows an enormously beautiful bride, in a posture where her knees are bent, and the legs splayed out, revealing the pubic area. The sheer detailing done in the painting is awe-inspiring. Gustav has also shown an overlay dress over the Bride’s body parts, with several suggestive and symbolic ornamental shapes.
This one is an unfinished portrait that Gustav worked on when he died in 1917. However, this unfinished work is as stunning as any gorgeous Gustav Klimt painting.
The subject of Amalie Zuckerkandl is, of course, the muse, Amalie Zuckerkandl. She looks directly at the viewer, and you somehow manage to establish a connection with the figure. Here too, you will find hues of eroticism, and the bare shoulders of Amalie Zuckerkandl, along with a warm body language, make it most evident.
With the casually fondly hands and the elegant gown settling on the ground, the painting only makes one think how much more stunning it could have been had this painting been completed by Gustav.
The Bottom Line
Gustav Klimt was undoubtedly an artist of his breed, with Gustav Klimt’s artworks holding a place for themselves, right! Witnessing this fantastic body of work unfold at a magnificent exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any art lover. So if you can, you must attend this one and thank us later!
Exhibition Dates & Place
The major exhibition is titled ‘Klimt. The Secession and Italy’ has been up and running since 27 October 2021. The installations will continue to be open to the public until 27 March 2022 at Rome’s iconic Museo di Roma – Palazzo Braschi.