GUSTAV KLIMT: Sumptuous, exquisite and erotic
February 9, 2010 by Lisa Confetti
It is such a joy to design new pieces for the Lisa Confetti collection. As a part of the process, I spend hours perusing books in the art history sections of the San Diego State and UCSD libraries – meeting artists who are new to me and visiting old friends.
My new favorite forgotten friend is artist Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918). You know him from The Kiss, which has, understandably, been reproduced a million times. His paintings from the early 20th century are exquisite, with sumptuous patterns and vivid color. (It is not verbose to describe these paintings as exquisitely sumptuous. Look at them, they’re spectacular!)
RIGHT: Portrait of Ria Munk, 1917, Collection of Lentos Museum, Linz
BOTTOM: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, 1907, Neue Gallerie, New York
The floral patterns and bright colors in The Portrait of Ria Munk (above) are perfect for my spring jewelry collection. And I couldn’t resist adding them to several pieces (including my new chunky statement ring collection.)
LEFT to RIGHT: Cutting Garden, Ring 102, Performance
The Portrait of Ria Munk tells a sad story. After the end of an unhappy love affair, Ria Munk shot herself and died. Her grieving parents commissioned this portrait, but Klimt unsuccessfully struggled to portray her likeness, and the painting was abandoned.
Klimt is often defined as an eroticist. His primary subject matter was the female body, and many of his pieces were branded as obscene and produced outraged reactions. (His paintings are PG13 by today’s standards, but his drawings often careen toward NC-17.) Three of his more erotic paintings are below, and as you can see, with their sumptuous patterns and vivid colors, they are gorgeous.
LEFT: The Virgin, 1913, Collection of National Gallery, Prague
RIGHT: The Bride, 1917, Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
BOTTOM: Water Serpents II, 1904-07, Private Collection
One hundred years later, the outrage over Gustav Klimt’s sensualized subjects has long ago subsided. What remains is the recognition that he was one of the most important artists of his time who created paintings that have become the century’s most popular works of art.
PS: As I write this, I’m watching the New Orleans Saints’ victory parade on CNN. What a happy occasion for the state of Louisiana! The entire country celebrates for you. WHO DAT!
Gustav Klimt, Rachel Barnes, 2008. Quercus Publishing Plc.