Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gustav Klimt in Neue Galerie

What I had to skip last year was Neue Galerie, but luckily, this year I went there to see a Klimt exhibition, which in itself is a source of hope, happiness, inspiration, and freedom.

The building itself, placed right across Central Park on the Museum Mile, is a graceful 1914 construct.

The exhibition allowed us to indulge ourselves into the mindset of late 19th early 20th century. It was a tiny assembly of eight paintings, but nicely supported by more than 120 drawings by Gustav Klimt, the controversial artist of the Wiener Sezession. (controversial, particularly because of his university paintings which reveals his critical take on science, and his strict belief in freedom of art)

Wiki says

"In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, which was called "pornographic". Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language which was more overtly sexual, and hence more disturbing. The public outcry came from all quarters — political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result, they were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist. All three paintings were eventually destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945. His Nuda Verita (1899) defined his bid to further shake up the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above it is a quote by Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad."

I think his self-standing, overtly sexual, lush, sensual, and unromantically beautiful female figures are the result of the same freedom he takes so seriously, and that allowed him to reflect the psychoanalytical gaze to his model's. I only blog a few of the paintings I have seen today, but his more exciting work is here.

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