Thursday, 18 February 2016

Klimt With a Dash of Schiele Once Upon a Time in Vienna

Reading Lady in Gold, although harsh throughout, also brought to the fore for me all the different associations I've had with both Klimt and Schiele in my life.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
I was in Vienna in the summer of 2007, and went to both the Leopold Museum and the Belvedere Austrian Gallery all on my own after having both my heart and my wallet fully broken at the time....determined not to let it get me down, it was the summer I told myself that no matter what setbacks happened to me in life, I would always have art. I was unknowingly one year too late to see the first portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, as it had been rightfully retrieved the year before...but I did get to see a number of Klimts and Schieles.....artists I had always been drawn to.... how I wish I had studied further earlier and knew what I know now....instead I jaunted lightheartedly through the galleries at the time, enjoying the works for their colour and composition, wondering only mildly about the painters themselves. Klimt's patterns in the dresses, the colours and the bohemian shapes of his luscious and raw women, all made my head swirl. I also remember I was struck enough by the vulnerable aggression in the body language of the subjects painted by Schiele to lie in my hotel bed that night ruminating about what sort of worldly torment he was harbouring. Having met with something uncannily profound while staring quizzically at this painting, my silly personal romantic misery abated as I broke free of my own attachments:
Lovers ~ Egon Schiele
Being a typical gift shop loving tourist back then as much as now, I purchased two books that I've kept for nine years in great condition...I also purchased an exquisite china mug with a print of Klimt's Judith on it....packing it in my suitcase as a totem to triumph over love left ungained.

Books from Vienna

Judith ~ Gustav Klimt
Ironically, in 2015 when we moved out of the blue house, I sold off a lot of things as part of our stripping down to minimalism, and out went the Judith cup which over 7 years had developed a mild crack....then, while babysitting for a young friend on this past New Year's Eve, I spied it in her bathroom being used as a toothbrush holder. I felt a little pang of guilt and regret at selling off my Judith souvenir when it had meant so much to me and represented such a lovely visit to Vienna. But at the same time I knew the china cup was now in a home filled with appreciation for art, where on one of the walls hung another Klimt poster of his painting Tannenwald.

Living on this beautiful gulf island now, I appreciate even more Klimt's paintings of landscapes and trees, when at first it was his women as subjects, in their flowery gowns a la Emilie Floge, that captured not just my own imagination, but were the very eye of the storm that propelled his works to fame. Still, here is one of my favourites, aspen trees that seem to move like a swarm of starlings....is it an assertion of his style against the onslaught of criticism, something he dealt with as an artist ahead of his own time? :
 
A Gathering Storm ~ Klimt

And another painting I adore is his Water Nymphs...and don't be surprised if you see me copy the dotted pattern of their shrouds in one of my own paintings soon.....!


Water Nymphs ~ Klimt

Art in all its forms flows through us and onward every day 
in the tiniest and most enormous of ways.  

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