The Wien Museum Klimt Collection is the biggest and most varied of its kind in the world. Incorporating all the periods of his work, the collection spans from his days as a student and his first major commissions in the 1880s right up to one year before his death in 1918, including two of his absolute masterpieces, the painting “Pallas Athene” and the portrait of Emilie Flöge. Above all the collection includes some 400 drawings, but also rarities like the scandalous poster for the first exhibition of the Secession, Klimt’s work tunic, precious prints, vintage prints of portraits, his death mask and Egon Schiele’s drawing of the artist on his death bed. 2012 is Klimt’s anniversary year, offering a unique chance to see the city of Vienna’s collection in a wide-ranging exhibition, letting us appreciate the many facets of an artist who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries. Especially his drawings – sketches for his major works as well as erotic sheets – allow a fascinating insight into Klimt’s development and his way of working. In short, a close-up view of an artist. Revered and sentimentalised The exhibition also tackles controversial questions about today’s treatment of Klimt, be it uncritical veneration or unscrupulous sentimentalizing: how much ‘Klimtisation’ (Ludwig Hevesi) can Vienna handle? When does successful city branding such as ‘Vienna around 1900’ turn into ‘Klimt overkill’? Is every little pencil drawing a masterpiece? The exhibition is complemented by posters for Klimt exhibitions of the 20th Century belonging to the Wien Bibliothek (Vienna Library) and by posters showing pseudo-Klimt style posters of 1970s and 1980s advertising.
For the 150th anniversary of the birthday of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), the MAK is placing the artist’s cartoons for the mosaic frieze in the dining hall of Stoclet House, Brussels, at the center of an exhibition.