Vienna Celebrates the 150th Birthday of Gustav Klimt

Photos courtesy Albertina Museum, Vienna

The year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches MuseumLeopold Museum and Albertina are all staging major exhibitions dedicated to the work of this great turn-of-the-century modernist pioneer.

Gustave Klimt - thuderstorm

The Leopold Museum will be staging an exhibition titled “Gustave Klimt: A (time) Journey,” from February 24 to June 11 which will focus on the museum’s collection of hundreds of postcards, photographs and letters written by Gustav Klimt for over two decades to his partner in life Emilie Flöge. Among them there are art cards designed by the Wiener Werkstätte, tube mail, and telegrams as well as the correspondence that Klimt conducted with his friends and family in Vienna while enjoying his seasonal summer retreat at the Salzkammergut, at the Attersee and in Gastein or during his journeys that led him all across Europe to Italy, Paris, Brussels and London.

From March 16 until October 6, the Albertina Museum will celebrate Klimt’s 150th birthday with the exhibition “Klimt – Drawings” that will present the majority of the museum’s 170 drawings, as well as other items on loan. As a center for research on Gustav Klimt’s drawings, the museum will present pieces from all phases of the artist’s work. The focus will be on the unique drawing talent of Gustav Klimt, whose way of thinking and working is revealed in numerous figure studies and the precisely told allegories.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna will hold a special exhibition from February 14-May 6 focusing on the 13 major paintings completed by Klimt for the grand staircase of the museum and the sketches they were based on. In 1890 Klimt, together with his brother Ernst and Franz Matsch, were entrusted with creating spandrel paintings and other narrow pieces to fill the spaces between the columns lining the grand staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

While Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch kept to a more conservative style, the first signs of Art Nouveau symbolism can be clearly seen in Gustav Klimt’s pictures. These key paintings set the stylistic tone for Klimt’s world-famous work from about 1900 onwards.

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