Particolare dal fregio di Beethoven, 1901-1902
|Upper Belvedere, Vienna|
Giuditta I, 1901
Olio e foglia d’oro on canvas
...This would also be the last time Klimt would accept commissions from the state, remarking: "I've had enough of censorship...I reject all state support, I don't want any of it."
...The paintings were requested for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, but the ministry declined, nervous of what the reaction might be. Klimt then resigned his commission, wishing to keep his work, but the ministry insisted they were already property of the state. Only when Klimt threatened the removal staff with a shotgun was he able to keep his paintings.
We can imagine the scene: Klimt, the frenzied creator of the paintings, armed with a shotgun, challenging some bewildered officers from the state who had arrived to take his creations away. Speaking from personal experience, an artist will protect their creation like a lion ferociously protects their young. I can almost understand why the state felt they had the right to snatch the art in Klimt's case -- in their mind, they had commissioned the paintings. If they were paying an artist, damn it, that artist must be forced to behave according to the Rules of State. However, Klimt was operating under different Rules. He was following the standards set by the Angels from a another world, the World of Art -- like Beethoven -- who had gone before.
When the World of Art collides with the Material World, it is like a nuclear bomb. We must remember that King Ludwig II of Bavaria was the enlightened ruler of the World of Art during Klimt's formative years; Wagner was still going strong. At around the same time, Sigmund Freud zapped everyone awake with psychoanalysis right there in Vienna, and Carl Jung expanded on the theme. It was the turn of the century and The World of Art -- The Real World -- had kicked into high gear, which always spooks the state, which then, in turn, kicks into "crush, kill, destroy" mode. Attempting to radically move the state forward is no easy feat, though real artists never give up trying to do such things.
In any event, Klimt got his paintings back without firing a shot, with the help of his gutsy patrons, August Lederer, and his wife, Serena Pulitzer, together with Koloman Moser, fellow artist and founder of the Vienna Secession.
Then, in 1945, the Nazis destroyed those paintings anyway, but by that time, Klimt had been dead for 27 years, and could only suffer from Heaven.
|Gustav Klimt |
Giuditta II (Salomé), 1909
Olio su tela 176x46 cm.
Venezia, Ca' Pesaro -
Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna
One of the main themes of the exhibition is Klimt's collaboration with Joseph Hoffman, the architect and interior designer. These two men strived to attain the total work of art. In 1902, the Secession decided to stage an exhibition devoted to Beethoven centered on Max Klinger's sculpture of the composer. Hoffman was the artistic director, who created three large rooms. In one of those rooms, Klimt depicted the Beethoven Frieze on three walls. I was mesmerized by the work.
Based on Richard Wagner's descriptive interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony -- in particular, Friedrich von Schiller's Ode to Joy -- Klimt illustrates the allegorical theme of Art's victory over adversity.
Photo at: Secession
From the official Secession website:
The Beethoven Frieze was originally intended as an ephemeral work of art and, like the other decorative paintings, it was to be removed after the close of the exhibition. It was only owing to fortunate circumstances, that the frieze was not destroyed as planned: the Secession was to present the following year a major Klimt retrospective (XVIIIth exhibition, 1903), and it was decided to leave the work of art in place.
In 1903 the arts patron and collector Carl Reinighaus purchased the frieze, which was cut into seven pieces to be removed from the wall and was stored for twelve years in a furniture depot in Vienna, until Reinighaus sold the frieze again in 1915 to the industrialist August Lederer. Lederer was one of Klimt's most important supporters and owner of what was probably the most extensive and important collection of Klimt pictures in private hands at that time.
In 1938 the Lederer family, like so many other families of Jewish origin, was dispossessed. The Beethoven Frieze was thus placed in "state custody" and was only officially returned to the ownership of the family heir Erich Lederer, who had meanwhile settled in Geneva, after the end of World War II. At the same time, an export ban was placed on the frieze, so that Erich Lederer finally decided - not least of all due to the increasingly urgent necessity of restoring the frieze - to sell it to the Republic of Austria.
In 1973 the Beethoven Frieze was purchased by the Republic of Austria and restored over the course of ten years under the direction of Manfred Koller from the Federal Office of Monuments Vienna.
In the exhibition Traum und Wirklichkeit—Wien 1870-1930 at the Vienna Künstlerhaus, the frieze was displayed in a re-creation by the Hans Hollein Studio of its original setting by Josef Hoffmann. It was then transferred to a room in the Secession Gallery specially designed by Adolf Krischanitz.
The stunning Hans Hollein Studio recreation is what we have here in Venice, while the original is on show in Vienna in an exhibition entitled Close-up – GUSTAV KLIMT ~ GERWALD ROCKENSCHAUB – Plattform, which runs from March 23 to November 4, 2012. For more information, please go to the Secession site.
(dal ciclo Mille e una Notte)
Le principesse e i guerrieri, 1914
Olio e oro su tela, cm 171 x188
In addition to GUSTAV KLIMT in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession at the Museo Correr, there will be a companion exhibition over at Ca' Pesaro, Venice's International Gallery of Modern Art, entitled Spirito klimtiano: Vittorio Zecchin e Galileo Chini e la grande decorazione a Venezia featuring two Italian artists inspired by Klimt.
Venice acquired Judith II after
Klimt's acclaimed participation
in the 1910 Venice Biennale.
GUSTAV KLIMT in the Sign of Hoffmann and the Secession
Piazza San Marco
San Marco 52,
Entrance for the public: St. Mark’s Square, Napoleonic Wing, Monumental Staircase
March 24 to July 8, 2012
CLICK for more information
SPIRITO KLIMTIAN: Vittorio Zecchin e Galileo Chini e la grande decorazione a Venezia
Ca' Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
Santa Croce 2070,
March 31 to July 8, 2012
CLICK for more information
Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog