Thursday, 5 May 2011

Gilded Romance vs. Eroticism and Sexuality: The two sides of Gustav Klimt

Klimt is one of my favourite artists; and I think it's a feminine thing. Let's be honest - I have yet to come across a girl/woman who doesn't love him!
There's something about his golden canvases that draw in women like magpies to a shiny objects; they are mesmerising, higly romanticised, sensual - particularly because most of his subjects are women. Maybe that's why women love his paintings; they can relate to them, identify with them.
Water Serpents II c. 1907

Judith and the Head of Holofernes, 1901
But little did I know about his drawings of male and female nudes and sexually inspired themes:

"Several of the works, including two of women masturbating, would be hard to hang on a domestic wall. "They were made for the artist's pleasure, and kept for the collector's private pleasure," Mr Pylkkanen said. Some of them are preparatory drawings for known paintings, but most are works in their own right. They include a coloured chalk drawing of Ria Munk, a Viennese society beauty. Klimt painted her several times, completing a portrait that was commissioned by her parents, and another of her lying on her death bed - made in 1912, a year after she committed suicide at the age of 24. "
(The Guardian, 10th October 2001)

Indeed, Klimt has addressed the taboo of sex and pleasure quite clearly; these works are exposed, striking. The exquisite delicacy of his execution he conveys, better than any other book, that image fragile and complex, but deeply expressive, that Klimt built of women, their theme par excellence.

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