Impressive Gustav Klimt and friends exhibition in Venice

I attended this exhibition on 26 May 2012 with my wife and our two sons at Venice’s Correr Museum, which has hosted the exhibition to celebrate 150 years since the birth of Klimt. Venice’s hosting of the exhibition is also important due to Klimt’s search for love in the city, where he pursued Alma Schindler (who then married three other men). We greatly appreciated the exhibition, yet felt it was an enticement to view further works by Klimt and his associates rather than a complete experience of their art. Indeed, there are not many items by Klimt. We should recall that Klimt produced relatively few canvases and 14 were destroyed by the Nazi SS in 1945. Yet the exhibition includes many pieces by Klimt’s contemporaries, especially Josef Hoffmann.

To be fair, the title of the exhibition is ‘Klimt, Hoffmann and the Secession’ and it should be viewed as a taster of the Secession radical movement that Klimt led between the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century before this premature death in 1918. It does include many wonderful pieces, especially “Sunflower”(illustrated below), and “Judith” and “Judith II” by Klimt (both illustrated above). There is also a wonderful copy of the “Beethoven Frieze”, created by twenty-two artists about the Ninth Symphony. In addition, there are fantastic examples of jewellery and the merging of artistic and architectural skills during the Secessionist Movement, especially models of public buildings by Hoffman, Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch. Certainly, the exhibition takes you beyond the contemporary fascination with Gustav Klimt’s depictions of love and femmes fatales.

In many ways, the Venice exhibition is an enticement to view the Belvedere exhibition in Vienna titled “Masterpieces In Focus: 150 years of Gustav Klimt” running from 12 July 2012 to 6 January 2013. I hope we will have the chance to attend.

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