Gustav Klimt was kinda awesome. And the Klimt exhibit currently at the Leopold Museum, Klimt – Up Close and Personal, in Vienna is also kinda awesome.
Not only does the Leopold have some of Klimt’s most incredible paintings, but the curators managed to track down hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of post cards that Klimt scribbled, sometimes as many as ten per day, to his dear friend, Emilie. Most of his postcards are about the weather, or what he ate for a dinner, or just a few thoughts that popped into his head. They are essentially the pre- and during-WWII equivalent of text messages, and were a wonderful glimpse into thoughts running through Klimt’s head.
Klimt was a man who painted without an underlying motive, without pushing some major theory. He often said he was more interested in painting beautiful things than conveying some bigger thematic meaning. He also had many cats, which wandered freely through his studio. Rumor has it that he told his students that cat paw prints and occasional urine on his sketches were not a problem – they were really improvements. It was unclear if he was joking or not, and despite hygiene problems, I love this lighthearted approach to painting beautiful things.
Though he mocked his art, Klimt was a successful painter during his lifetime, and received large sums for his paintings.
During the summer, Klimt only wore long Chinese-style dressing gowns, with nothing underneath. Secret-revealing time: That is BY FAR the best way to paint. In the buff, or semi-buff. If I had a long Chinese-style dressing gown, I would wear it to paint too.
Klimt was one of the founders of the Secession movement, a group of influential painters trying to break out of more conventional art molds. This (below) is a lovely poster for the group, that I believe was drawn by Klimt, but right now I cannot really remember.
I have so much more to tell, because I was incredibly moved by this exhibit. There is also more awesome stuff that was on exhibit at the Leopold Museum, but I think I will share that with you later.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to finish by saying that I was never moved by Klimt before – the most famous works that everyone knew didn’t really speak to me – but this exhibit left me screaming to get out my paints, dying to put his techniques on canvas. If you haven’t been to see it yet, and have a chance, I highly recommend it. And I recommend wearing long gowns commando-style.
Lieben and painting,