Klimt as you’ve never seen him before

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Klimt as you’ve never seen him before


A copy of Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze” mural.Provided by the organizer

It’s about time, art experts say, referring to the current Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) exhibition at the Hangaram Exhibition Hall in Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul.

The exhibition claims to be Asia’s first and largest collection solely dedicated to the Austrian Art Nouveau painter.

“Gustav Klimt in Korea 2009” includes some 110 oil paintings, drawings, murals and installations.


Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s “Judith I.” Provided by the organizer

“You will get a full picture of who Klimt is,” said Agnes Husslein-Arco, the director of the Austrian Belvedere Gallery, during an interview with the JoongAng Daily last Saturday. She was in town accompanying some representative pieces by Klimt from her gallery in Vienna.

The Austrian gallery contributed more than 30 paintings by Klimt - some of which have rarely been displayed in previous exhibitions. And Husslein-Arco says “no other country will have the paintings anymore.”

Works by Klimt or related to him have also been contributed by private collectors and galleries, including The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and Gallery Saint Etienne in New York.


Gustav Klimt

Klimt - a member of the Vienna Secession movement - produced brilliant and fanciful paintings and drawings mainly of the female form.

Several of his major works on display are “Judith I” (1901), an oil painting of a Viennese femme fatale; “Adam and Eve” (1917) and “Baby” (1917-1918), thought to be the artist’s last work.

Though Klimt’s more famous works like “The Kiss” (1907-1908) or “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (1907) couldn’t make it to Seoul from Vienna, sections from the “Beethoven Frieze” mural are here.

Beethoven Frieze was a mural painted by 21 members of the Secession movement group, including Klimt, for display at the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition in 1902 in Vienna.

The work is a celebration of the composer including installations, painting, craft work and music. A movable copy of the mural, courtesy of the Austrian government, is on display here.

While the exhibition has already received positive feedback from Klimt fans in Korea and local art experts, organizing it wasn’t easy at all, according to Teit Ritzau from Arteg, the Austrian art organizer in charge of the exhibition.

“Private lenders from countries including America and Germany made the exhibition complete but it was difficult to convince them to contribute their collections,” he said.

“Korea had not much to offer them back.”

The exhibition runs through May 15. To get to the museum, take the subway to Nambu Bus Terminal station, line No. 3, exit 5. Tickets range from 5,000 won ($3.58) to 16,000 won. For information, call (02) 334-4254 or visit klimtkorea.co.kr.

By Lee Eun-joo Staff Reporter [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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