Report from Klimt’s Vienna in The Month of August 2012
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:

The Beethoven Frieze at Secession *

At the Leopold Museum: Klimt Up Close & Personal *

150 Jahre Gustav Klimt at the Obere Belvedere *



MADE 4 YOU: Design for Change *

DINGE: schlict und einfach—THINGS: plain & simple… *

From Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna to the Principality of Liechtenstein *



Considering that Vienna’s Albertina possesses one of the finest collections of Drawings & Prints by such Masters as Albrecht Dürer, it is amazing that its Director & Curators decided to Curtail their Klimt Zeichnung exhibition in early June, instead of letting it run through the Summer.

Thus, the Albertina partly lost out on the Klimt Frenzy that was seizing almost every Museum & Gallery in the Austrian Capital.

Instead, in July & August, the Albertina was showcasing French Impressionists from a Private Collection, among other Treats, including the Baroque & Neo Classical Albertine Imperial Chambers.

Nonetheless, there were Klimts enough for every Venue that wanted to Celebrate this Ardent Secessionist, who was often seen as Too Advanced in his own time.

Of course, the [almost] Most Famous Klimt, Die Goldene Adele, was not in Vienna in Person.

The wondrous vision of Adele Bloch Bauer was to be seen only in Posters.

She remained on Fifth Avenue & 86th Street—at Ronald Lauder’s Neue Galerie—where she is Enshrined as one of the Most Costly Paintings ever purchased by a Very Rich Man!

In fact, you can Save Money on the Trip to Vienna to see Klimt in All His Glory by just stopping by on Upper Fifth. Lauder has a Representative Selection of Klimts! [Also some Spread Legged Egon Schieles…]

As if the Klimt Program were not full enough, Klimt, Das Musical is on the way!

For those who were determined to sample every Klimt Manifestation on offer in Vienna, there was even a 150 Jahre Gustav Klimt Pass Zum Jubiläum.

The Pass not only got you a reduction of One Euro on each Museum Admission, but also a Passport Stamp for each of the Ten Participating Museums & Collections:

The Belvedere, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Leopold Museum, the Albertina, MAK, the Österreiches Theater Museum, the Wien Museum, the Künstlerhaus, Secession, & the Textil Mustersammlung Emilie Flöge.

With all Ten Stamps, you were given a Gift at one of the Klimt Venues.

But, with only Five Stamps, you could enter the Klimt Lottery!

For the First Three Winners, there is to be an "Exclusive Weekend" on Lake Attersee, including a visit to the Klimt Centre & a Trip on the Klimt Boat!

[The Attersee is not only a Preferred Vacation from Vienna for the Elite, but it’s also where some of the most important Art Masterpieces stolen by the Nazis were hidden…]

The remaining Seven Lottery Winners will receive all Ten Catalogues from the various Venues.

As there is no longer a cheap Book Rate, these should cost a lot to Mail…



The Wien Museum/Karlsplatz—Also Known as the Süd Bahnhof

Actually, the real Süd Bahnhof has disappeared, replaced with a Chaos of Construction for a new South RR Station.

So it’s a bit Cute that the Wien Museum has posted a Süd Bahnhof Sign over its Entrance.

Nonetheless, as both Secession & the Künstlerhaus are also near Karlsplatz, it was a Stroke of Genius that Your Roving Arts Reporter was staying at the Historic Kaiserhof, only a few blocks away.

Karlsplatz is dominated by the amazing Baroque Karlskirche, flanked by Two Towering Columns, replete with spiraling Historical Reliefs. It also features the wonderful Jugendstil Stadt Bahn Stations of Otto Wagner.

The Wien Museum show is an excellent introduction to Klimt, his Family, his Background, his Influences, his Early Sketches, his favored Subjects, & later Iconic Designs. Such as the Pallas Athena & other Poster Motifs

The Museum also has excellent collections of Historical Art, Sculpture, & even Archeological Artifacts: Effectively, Art in Vienna Over the Centuries

Without Klimt: Klimt & the Künstlerhaus…

On entering the Künstlerhaus, you are advised that No Klimts are on view.

The Point of this Unusual Documentation is that Klimt & like minded Modern Artists—they were the Most Modern of their day—were tired of Historicism & Academic "Rules."

They wanted to Secede from the Künstlerhaus, which they did in 1897—with much bad feeling on the part of the fusty Old Guard.

That’s why Josef Olbrich’s "Golden Cabbage" home of Secession was constructed not far away…

Nonetheless, Klimt did get a Major Retrospective in 1943—under the banner of the Künstlerhaus—so he was Not Guilty of creating Entartete Kunst, the Nazi Regime’s favored term for so called Degenerate Art.

This Show was mounted at the behest of Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna. Originally, he had been Head of the Hitler Youth!

[His Hitler Youth Assistant was Bodo von Laferantz, married to Verena Wagner, Sister of Wieland & Wolfgang Wagner, & thus Uncle to Katherina Wagner & Eva Wagner Pasquier, currently directing the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth,]

Later, in 1985, Klimt also had a Major Place in Traum & Wirklichkeit, an impressive Künstlerhaus Exhibition.


The Beethoven Frieze at Secession

Now undergoing Major Restoration, Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze of 1902, installed in the Secession Gallery, was greeted as a Masterpiece of Jugendstil—or Art Nouveau—on the one hand, but also as "Painted Pornography."

What one can actually see in situ, although incomplete, is astonishing. Fortunately there are ample Videos & Drawings to give one an Idea of how the Original appeared.

Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze has long been knocked about, toured around, in storage, & generally misused & abused, so the Restoration is very welcome…

What is more astonishing, however, are the Odd Art Constructions that infest the Main Floor of Secession. Klimt would not be amused!


At the Leopold Museum: Klimt Up Close & Personal

The Leopold Museum is a Modern Structure sited inside what used to be the Imperial Habsburg Stables, now converted into havens for many kinds & forms of Art, both Created & Performed

During the Klimt Celebrations, it has mounted an astounding Introduction to Klimt & his Works, with Klimt’s own observations on individual Artworks, as well as Personal Insights into this essentially Shy & Withdrawn Individual.

The Leopold has an impressive collection of Klimts, but it also has the Largest Collection of Egon Schiele’s Artworks in the World!

So these two rather different Geniuses are currently sharing the Limelight at the Leopold

Among the Major Klimts now on view are: Death & Life & The Golden Knight or Life Is a Battle.

Klimt’s fascination with the marvelous Ravenna Mosaics is documented with a glowing reproduction of Empress Theodora.


150 Jahre Gustav Klimt at the Obere Belvedere

The Lavish Baroque Palace that is the Obere Belvedere was created—at Great Expense—by Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was an Imperial Field Marshall when the Ottoman Turks were driven from the Gates of Vienna.

Supposedly, his Share of the Booty helped pay for this Summer Retreat from the Heart & Heat of the bustling City. He also had to borrow to finance this Elaborate Folly.

Actually, there are Two Belvederes, an Upper & a Lower, complete with Formal Gardens, Fountains, Sphinxes, & Stables.

What was a Savoy was doing in Vienna, so far away from Northern Italy?

Not only could a Savoyard hire out as a Mercenary, but Savoy, in those times, was part of the vastly expansive Austro Hungarian Empire.

The Chambers devoted to the Upper Belvedere’s 30 Klimt Masterpieces are themselves impressive, but they are eclipsed by such magnificent images as Klimt’s Portraits of the real Fritza Riedler & the Biblical Judith.

Not to overlook the stunning & richly ornamented image of Der Kuss, or The Kiss

But the overwhelming Array of KlimtsGardens, Portraits, Lakes, Fantasies—is itself almost overwhelmed by the Majesty of Architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt’s great Marble Hall!

There is a Majestic Baroque Staircase that leads from the Entry Hall up to this Majestic Hall, but it was Absolutely Forbidden to Photograph even the slightest detail of this Treppenhaus.

As this Staircase was recently restored to a Glowing White Magnificence, with the Financial Aid & Landmark Encouragement of the World Monument Fund—of which I am a Donor Member—I thought I ought to be allowed a Shot or two for INFOTOGRAPHY™?

But NO!

It was OK to photograph World Monument Fund Projects in Lisbon, Rajasthan, & Angkor, but not in the Obere Belvedere



Although the Vast Bulk of the Stiftung Ludwig Museum looks rather like an immense Beached Whale, in the Context of the former Habsburg Imperial Stables, it yields to no other Viennese Museum in its Trendiness.

The Current Show—closing 23 September 2012—is so Unusual that you might want to get the Catalogue for yourself! [ or]

Seen as a "Barometer of the Zeitgeist," the Curators of Reflecting Fashion believe it is Socially Relevant!

For Fashion Art Historians, this show is especially interesting as it provides re creations of Costume Designs for early Soviet Constructivist & Surrealist Stage Productions!

To honor its Viennese Base, there are also Handsome Fashions conceived by Artist Designers of the Wiener Werkstätte.

Along with Relevant Artworks, these Gowns, Dresses, Smocks, & Costumes are juxtaposed with Fashions of the 1960s & 1970s, showing how both Art & Functionality came to inform the designs of the most Avant Garde Imaginations.

Gustav Klimt is echoed even here, as a photo of his Great Good Friend, Emilie Flöge, shows her in an intensely patterned Flowing Gown, dominated by Vertical Black & Whie Stripes & Checkerboard Borders.

Some of the Costume Suggestions are clearly meant to Astonish, rather than to provide Practical Protection from the Elements.

One of the most astonishing of the Installations, however, is Christo’s Wedding Dress, of 1967, when he was getting into Wrapping.



Almost always in the Forefront of Innovative Exhibitions of Modern Design & Contemporary Art in Vienna, MAK was the first Wiener Museum to celebrate Gustav Klimt in his Anniversary Year.

Created as the Museum für Angewandte KunstDecorative or Applied ArtsMAK has since transformed itself also into a Major Showplace for Contemporary Arts.

Its Klimt Contribution featured the Mural Designs Klimt made for the Dining Room in Palais Stoclet in Brussels, Belgium.

This was & is a fabulous Jugendstil Modernist House, enshrining in its Architecture, Interior Design, & all other aspects of Decoration, down to Curtains & Cutlery, the Principles of the Wiener Werkstätte.

Lavish with Klimt Kult swirls & whirls & jeweled details, these Remarkable Cartoons were on view until Mid July, under the Title of Erwartung und Erfüllung—or Expectation & Fulfillment.

Arts Rambles has already reported on this exhibition, thanks to MAK sending the Handsome Catalogue & CD way back in March.

If you are a Klimt Collector or Fan, you might want to get these invaluable items for your own Collection. Try the Website:

When I & my Critic Colleague & Webmaster Scott Bennett arrived at MAK, in Mid August, we were obviously too late for the Stoclet Friezes.

But there was still much to see in the made over Habsburgian Imperial Style Interiors of the Main MAK Museum. Galleries are dedicated to a kind of Time Line of Decorative Art History, including the 21st Century!

Not to disappoint us, however, the MAK Press Officer gave us two huge & heavy Catalogues for two Current Design Shows…


MADE 4 YOU: Design for Change

From Audi Auto Mock Ups to Prosthetic Devices, there are now stunning new Products either already On the Market or In Development that will make you want to Clear Out Your Closets, to make room for all this wonderful New & Useful Stuff!

In effect, as MAK Director Christoph Thun Hohenstein observes, this is a Design Ladder to the Future.

It is divided into Eight Challenging Sections:

Kontext: Changing Worlds/Changing Design…

Mobilität: Mobility—Visible/Invisible…

Digitale Konvergence: Dissatisfaction is the Motor of Change…

Leben und Freizeit: Life & Fun…

Leben und Arbeit: Life & Work…

Gesundheit: Health…

Überleben: Survival…

Werkzeuge: Tools…

The richly illustrated & essay explicated Made 4 You Catalogue is a Must for anyone interested in New Movements in Design for Living!


DINGE: schlict und einfach—THINGS: plain & simple…

Simplicity is a long way off from the Artful Over Ornamentation of Gustav Klimt.

But this remarkable exhibition provides a kind of Tonic to Vienna’s current Orgy of Decorative Overkill.

Drawn from the Museum’s own Collections, the Objects—from Furniture to Ceramics & Fabrics—celebrate not only the Aesthetic Achievements of Simplicity in Design, but also the Functional/Social Values of making Chairs, Spoons, & Tables both Attractive & Useful.

The Spare Lines of Biedermeier Chairs to the Bentwood Furniture of Michael Thonet are presented as a forward movement toward more Simplicity, in contrast to the Imperial Habsburg Style.

But even the Circular Scrollings of Thonet’s famed Rocking Chairs harks back more to the Baroque than forward toward the Furniture of Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Kolo Moser, Frank Lloyd Wright, & Marcel Breuer.

Another Theme in this challenging show is Plain Useful/Luxuriously Simple.

It surveys Everyday Utensils from the Renaissance until Today, showing how the most ordinary things—Bowls, Vases, Cutlery—can be both Elegantly Handsome & Strikingly Practical.

A Third Segment of this show features Simplicity: The East Asian Way.

This Time Line begins in the Fourth Century BC…

Reduction was seen as an expression of Exemplary Modesty, quite fitting for Buddhists.

Minimalism in Modern Architecture is not neglected, but it has to be explored in Photos & Designs, rather than in Objects.

The MAK/ZINE Catalogue of this Exhibition is a Keeper. Contact MAK for Your Copy!


From Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna to the Principality of Liechtenstein

Vaduz is a long way off from Vienna, but the Princes of Liechtenstein—when there was still an Austro Hungarian Empire—had their very own Palais Liechtenstein in the Habsburg Capital.

It is still there, although the K.u.KKaiserliche und KöniglicheEmpire ceased to exist in the wake of The Great War.

Even in the wake of The Second World War, Vaduz was a sleepy little, almost provincial, town, so one could see why the Reigning Prince might still want to make a get away to Vienna.

Of course, there’s also a Palais Liechtenstein in Feldkirch, but that’s even more Provincial than Vaduz…

What’s amazing today is how the Heart of Vaduz has been re imagined with blocks of stunning Post Post Modernist Architecture!

When Your Roving Arts Reporter first went to Vaduz—way back in 1957—it was still a pokey little place, but worth a visit because of the Magnificent Art Collection of the Prince & his Postal Museum.

It’s perhaps too much to say that Liechtenstein used to Live from sales of its Unique Postal Issues, but they were in demand by Stamp Collectors all over the world.

They still are!

Indeed, the Main Street, lined with Museums & Arts Complexes—as well as Government Bldgs—has Giant Stamps on the Sidewalks all along the way…

The Postal Museum is a Must, but there is also the Great Black Cube of the new Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein—where you can see not only the Masterpieces of the Princely Collection, but also the latest in International Art Experiments!

I was astonished at the bold Lines & Colored Geometrics of the canvases of Günter Fruhtrunk—who died in 1982—which were featured the very next day in Der Standard, Vienna’s New York Times.

These surely have to be seen at MoMA very soon!

But, if he died thirty years ago, perhaps they already have been & I missed them?

Fruhtrunk called these exciting works: Farbe Rhythmus Existenz.

For the Record: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein shared its Bill Bollinger: The Retrospective with Manhattan’s Sculpture Center, from April to July 2012!

There’s also the Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum along the Main Drag.

It boasts 42 Exhibition Rooms, featuring an Art Historical March of Time, from the earliest Archeological Findings, through the Middle Ages & into the 21st Century.

Also: some Natural History of the Princely Domains!

Art Works are installed all along the High Street, complementing the Modern Façades & especially those 19th Century Landmarks that still survive.

But that’s not all: There’s also the Kunstraum Engländerbau & The Gasometer!

I would never have seen any of this—at this Point in Time—had it not been for the initiative of my dear friends Gerd & Uli Alfons, who had promised me an Outing to Liechtenstein when I returned from Luzern, where I intended to photograph the Totentanz, a series of paintings of the Medieval Cycle of the Dance of Death, under the shingled trusses of an ancient Wooden Bridge that zig zags across the Lake of Lucerne.

Unfortunately—having already Fallen on My Head in San Francisco, photographing the

Golden Gate Bridge with a Trick Lens—I now have No Sense of Balance.

So, taking a Backward Step, I fell once again, only this time on my Back

This was almost my very own Dance of Death!

Gerd Alfons—who is the Genius Production Director of the Bregenz Festival—didn’t want me to miss the all the Promised Wonders of the Liechtenstein Museums, so he raced some six blocks away to the City Hospital to borrow a Wheelchair, from which I savored all the Artworks, inside & out.

Thank you, Gerd & Uli!

Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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