"Gustav Klimt & Josef Hoffmann Pioneers of Modernism" at the Belvedere

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artwork: Gustav Klimt - "Beethoven Frieze", (detail) 1901/02 - Casein paint, stucco layers, drawing pencil, applications of different materials (glass, mother-of-pearl, etc.), gold layers on mortar - 34.14 x 2.15 m. - Belvedere, Vienna / Loan at the Secession, Vienna. On view at the Belvedere, Vienna in "Gustav Klimt / Josef Hoffmann: Pioneers of Modernism" until March 4th 2012.


Vienna.- The Belvedere is proud to present “Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann: Pioneers of Modernism”, on view at the Lower Belvedere Palace until March 4th. With “Gustav Klimt/Josef Hoffmann”, the Belvedere pays tribute to two pioneers of Modernism in a comprehensive exhibition that simultaneously introduces the Klimt Year 2012. The painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and the architect and product and interior designer Josef Hoffmann shared a common vision of an art that was meant to touch all spheres of life. Over two decades, they were joined in their artistic and social activities, even if the intensity of their collaboration varied over time. They frequented the same circles, worked for the same clientele, and were both leading personalities in Vienna’s newly emerging art scene.

Such outstanding projects as the Beethoven exhibition at the Vienna Secession in 1902 and the Stoclet Palace in Brussels, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, were landmarks for generations to come. The exhibition focuses on Klimt and Hoffmann’s collaboration on the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, the only true “Gesamtkunstwerk”, or total work of art, produced by the Wiener Werkstätte. This unusual building and its lavish interiors are presented in detail for the first time at this special exhibition. Exact replicas of wall designs, an architectural model and numerous plans and preparatory sketches for Klimt’s Stoclet Frieze provide a valuable insight into the story behind the construction of this Art Nouveau Gesamtkunstwerk. Klimt and Hoffmann strove to establish a harmony between the visual and the applied arts and set new benchmarks in Europe when it comes to the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk. By means of numerous paintings, original plans, elaborate reconstructions, models, and historical documents, the show at the Belvedere illustrates the genesis and spatial impact of their joint projects and elucidates the intensive exchange with the Belgian art scene that lastingly influenced the evolution of Viennese Modernism.

artwork: Gustav Klimt - "Sunflower", 1907 - Oil on canvas - 110 � 110 cm. Private collection. - On view at the Belvedere until March 4th.

Hoffmann also designed numerous exhibitions during his career, many of which featured works by Gustav Klimt. Plans and reconstructions of individual rooms bring the early 1900s back to life. One such room is a replica of the Klimt Room where the Beethoven Frieze was shown to the public for the very first time in 1902. A scale model of the Beethoven exhibition recreates Vienna’s first ever Gesamtkunstwerk. Klimt’s compositional sketches for the frieze and various studies by some of the other artists represented at the exhibition provide additional context for the show. Another focus is on the artists’ cooperation for the Kunstschau 1908 where Klimt’s masterpiece “The Kiss” went on display to the public for the first time. Other attractions include a reconstruction of Klimt’s last studio (including a number of original items) that bears Josef Hoffmann’s design signature, as well as Hoffmann’s sketches for Klimt’s tomb, which was ultimately never completed.

The Belvedere Palaces, have harbored treasures of art ever since their beginnings, at first the collections of Prince Eugene and, from 1781, extensive parts of the imperial collection, which were also open to the public. Around 1900, since no measures were being taken to build the planned new museum for the state collection of contemporary art, Austrian artists were urging an improvised accommodation of works in the Lower Belvedere. In 1903, the Moderne Galerie was indeed opened there, thus laying the foundation for today’s collection. In 1923, the baroque museum was opened in the Lower Belvedere as the first part of the museum’s “restructuring”. The Galerie des XIX Jahrhunderts (Gallery of the XIXth Century) was set up in 1924 in the Upper Belvedere, with works by international and Austrian artists, meanwhile the Moderne Galerie was accommodated in the Orangerie, where the monumental sculpture found an ideal setting in the adjacent large landscaped garden. During the National-Socialist regime the Moderne Galerie remained closed, which meant that the inventory of so-called “degenerate” works was untouched.

artwork: Gustav Klimt - "Marie Henneberg", 1901/02 - Oil on canvas - 144.5 x 144.5 x 7 cm. Stiftung Moritzburg, Halle an der Saale.  -  On view at the Belvedere, Vienna

Museum operations during the post-Second World War period have been characterized by numerous new acquisitions, extensions and modernization measures. From 1991 to 1996, the Upper Belvedere underwent general refurbishment. The Lower Belvedere and the Orangery are used as the Belvedere’s exhibition forum. Medieval at the Upper Belvedere: The Belvedere owns internationally outstanding works of Late Gothic sculpture and panel painting. They offer an overview of the major artistic developments in the International Style from around 1400 to the early sixteenth century. The Baroque Collection of the Belvedere left the Lower Belvedere in 2007 and the most important works of Austrian Baroque are now shown in the east wing of the Upper Belvedere. The 19th century collection encompasses a wide range of masterpieces, including classicism, romanticism and Biedermeier, realism and historicism, and the art of impressionism. Classicism and romanticism are pre-eminently represented in portraits and mood landscapes, especially by Caspar David Friedrich. Besides examples of Austrian mood impressionism, there is a remarkable and exclusive selection of international art with works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Visit the Belveder’s webpage at … http://www.belvedere.at