Austrian painter Gustav Klimt is one of history’s most important artists, most widely associated with the Vienna Secession movement. The artist is most renowned for his Golden Phase at the turn of the 20th century, in which time his focus on the female body and eroticism culminated in some of the most significant works of modern art. Today, Klimt’s art is on display in temporary and permanent exhibitions around the world – from Vienna to New York.
The Art Nouveau Secession Building was erected in 1897 as an architectural manifesto of the Vienna Secession group, marking their break with conservative exhibition space Künstlerhaus. Above the entrance, visitors can inspect the Secessionist motto “To every age its art, to every art its freedom.” The Secession Building is home to Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze, which was created for an exhibition in 1902. The 34-metre-long (112ft) painting depicts Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The final section of the painting (the embracing lovers surrounded by angels) is also known as This Kiss to the Whole World and is considered one of Klimt’s most notable works. The upper levels of the Secession Building feature a variety of temporary exhibitions by modern artists.
In 2012, Vienna’s Albertina gallery in the city’s stately First District held an exhibition of Klimt’s work called The Drawings. It featured 170 pages of Klimt’s preliminary and complete sketches, created using pencils, chalk, pen and watercolours. The collection heavily focused on nude images of the female form. Today, you’ll find just a couple of Klimt’s creations in Albertina’s permanent collection. Pieces are rotated regularly and have included the popular Water Nymphs (Silverfish) from 1899.
Come to the Theatermuseum, in the Palais Lobkowitz in Vienna, to see Klimt’s Nuda Veritas (Naked Truth) from 1899. The artwork features a naked woman holding a mirror beneath the Friedrich Schiller quote “If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad.” Nuda Veritas was given to the museum by artist Hermann Bahr and is on permanent display, along with reproductions of letters written by Klimt. The Theatermuseum is also a stunning piece of art in its own right.
Amy Blyth contributed additional reporting to this article.
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