The kiss. Judith. Two titles, but only one could be enough to evoke the author without misunderstanding: Gustav Klimt. Or Klimt tout court. “Klimt. The Secession and Italy “, at the Museum of Rome at Palazzo Braschi is the exhibition that will open tomorrow (until March 27), promoted by Roma Cultura, Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, co-produced by Arthemisia in collaboration with Belvedere Museum, Klimt Foundation of Vienna and public and private collections; directors Franz Smola, Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli, Sandra Tretter. Partner Julius Meini, Ricola, Catellani & Smith, Dimensione Suono Soft. Unmissable Skira catalog.
The exhibition, recommended by Sky Arte, traces the life and artistic production of Klimt and his extraordinary multiform evolution, underlining his role as co-founder of the Viennese Secession and investigating his relationship with Italy, a privileged destination for his travels and great successes (1910 Venice Biennale; first prize at the 1911 International Exhibition in Rome, with The Three Ages of Woman).
Are approximately 200 works on display, including paintings, drawings, vintage posters and sculptures, by Klimt and the artists of his circle. The famous Judith I, the Lady in White, Amiche I (The Sisters), Amelie Zuckerkandl appear there … But even more interesting is the presence of quite exceptional loans such as “The bride” from the Klimt Foundation and the “Portrait of a Lady” ( estimate between 60 and 100 million euros) stolen from the Ricci Oddi Gallery in Piacenza in 1997 and fortunately recovered in 2019. The painting will be back on display in its Piacenza headquarters in spring 2022.
Klimt (Vienna, 1862) animated his studio with crowds of damsels with whom he habitually mated (after his death, 14 women claimed in court that they had a son with him, 6 of whom were recognized). The sentimental masochism of women being unfathomable, a “respectable” young lady, Emilie Flöge, although aware of the artist’s Doniovannesque vocation, was his faithful companion until his death on 11 January 1918, at the age of 56, when, returning from a trip to Romania, Klimt was struck by the Spanish flu. Many of his paintings remained unfinished. (The same fate will suffer a few months later the colleague / pupil Egon Schiele, only 28 years old, victim of the same inexorable disease).
The second of seven brothers, a goldsmith father, a mother versed in opera music, Gustav Klimt was born in an environment with a strong inclination for art (two younger brothers also became painters). Despite pressing economic constraints, Gustav was able to attend the School of Art and Crafts since 1876, learning to master various techniques, from mosaic to ceramics, with optimal results. Commissions of prestige and awards did not keep us waiting. Lot of work. Fame and economic peace of mind.
In 1903, the two decisive trips of Klimt (close to forty years old) to Ravenna. It is the beginning of the “golden period”, where mosaic gold, an echo of the paternal goldsmith’s art, unleashes in the Painter the passion for the transformation of reality from opaque to brilliant. It is the moment of some of the most famous masterpieces: Giuditta I (1901) enchanting dreamy very elegant image; the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907) great lady similar to a turreted dragonfly; The kiss (1907-08) overwhelming embrace built in an indissoluble tangle of bodies: all works converted to gold in Byzantium.
The prevalence of female figures is obvious: magical, harmonious, erotic, unattainable. The symbolisms are pregnant. So much suitor radiance unexpectedly comes to an end. In 1909, with Judith II, a tragic biblical figure where dark and strong colors begin to dominate the gold, Klimt enters an existential and artistic crisis. It will give life to the “mature period”, very surprisingly. With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First World War broke out, everything changes and Klimt starts looking at Matisse, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec. Flowery Art Nouveau declines and expressionist painting, collected in Vienna by Schiele and Oscar Kokoschka, former students of Klimt, makes its way. But how much more surprising is the eye that Klimt casts on a post-impressionist like Claude Monet. Doesn’t the blue, spontaneous, sweet “Italian landscape” of 1913, quite far from the gleaming gold, remember him closely?
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