Modernist pioneers

Gustav Klimt, Irrlichter, 1903, PIDownload Images

Gustav Klimt, Irrlichter, 1903, Öl auf Leinwand,
52,1 x 59,7 cm
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Vienna's Belvedere palace is home to the world's largest collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt. A new exhibition at the Belvedere will center on the long-standing collaboration between Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), which started with the foundation of the Vienna Secession in 1897 and continued until Klimt's death in 1918. The close working relationship between the two, which included the Beethoven Exhibition (1902) at the Secession and the Palais Stoclet (1905-1912) in Brussels, set new standards in Europe for the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art). Among the exhibits on show at the Belvedere is an exact replica of the Klimt room at the show staged 110 years ago, as well as a scale model of the exhibition halls as they were at the time.

Belgian artists such as George Minne and Fernand Khnopff, who also staged successful exhibitions in the Austrian capital, had a major influence on the nascent Viennese Modernist movement. The interdisciplinary collaboration between artists, architects and writers from these two countries was more intensive at the turn of the century than at any other period before or since, a phenomenon that the Belvedere exhibition explores with a comparative show of selected works by Fernand Khnopff, George Minne, Jan Toorop and Gustav Klimt. The highly amicable working relationships between Khnopff and the Wiener Werkstätte director Fritz Waerndorfer, Hoffmann, Klimt and art lover Adolphe Stoclet culminated in the commissioning of the Wiener Werkstätte's sole Gesamtkunstwerk or total work of art, the peerless Palais Stoclet in Brussels (begun in 1905). This private mansion will feature prominently at the exhibition to coincide with the 100th anniversary of its completion in 1911/12.

Gustav Klimt's last studio in the 13th district, which also doubled up as a repository for parts of his ethnographic collection, bore Josef Hoffmann's distinctive design signature. A comparison of Klimt's reconstructed studio - featuring a number of original Hoffmann-designed pieces of furniture - and Klimt's portrait of Fritza Riedler sheds light on the influence that each artist had on each other. The exhibition also presents both men's work in the context of the Wiener Werkstätte. Klimt died on February 6, 1918 and was laid to rest in Hietzing cemetery. Although ultimately never realised, Josef Hoffmann's design for Klimt's tomb is also on display at the exhibition.

Gustav Klimt / Josef Hoffmann. Pioneers of Modernism

Oct 25, 2011-Mar 4, 2011
Lower Belvedere, Rennweg 6, 3rd district
www.belvedere.at

 

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