Golden Autumn! Golden Art! (Klimt)

Cher’s Famous Art

10 October 2020

 Klimt’s Golden Art

Gustav Klimt, 1903, Art Nouveau/Symbolist, Austrian

Birch Forest” “The Kiss” “Lady in Gold

Armchair Travel: Film “Woman in Gold

Armchair Travel: Film “Monuments Men

Golden Autumn

Golden Autumn!  Much like the golden colors carpeting our Minnesota lawns and landscapes this time of year, Klimt shares the blazing reds, ambers and golds to remind us of the coming–and present autumn. 

I especially enjoy this work of his as it is different in subject (solely landscape vs. focus on people) from his most famous paintings – but alike in the use of the golden color that we typically associate with Klimt’s oil paintings during his “Golden Period” in the early years at the turn of the century. He actually uses gold leaf and silver in his two most popular works, “The Kiss” and “The Lady [or Woman] in Gold” – on which the 2015 British film “Woman in Gold” was based.  After doing research in the fascinating history behind the “Woman in Gold,” it is now on near the top of my “must watch” movie list! Check out my “Woman in Gold” blog review

Golden Art: “Birch Forest” 1903, oil on canvas.

“Birch Forest” was one of several versions during his getaway to Lake Attersee, Austria, where he explored the vast forests daily, starting at 6:00 am.  He was fascinated by the lake and the timeless woodlands with the elegant vertical lines, patterns and individuality of each of the birch trees. Art historians have said that in these paintings that “no human beings disturb the forested place…” It is a unique mix of being both two-dimensional and three-dimensional.  Unfortunately, most of these painting are in private collections so we have to enjoy them in reproductions.

Golden Art! “The Kiss” (Lovers),

Completed a few years later (1907-08), does focus on human beings–BIG TIME!  This huge (72” x 72”) painting exudes a powerful presence as the life-size figures, wrapped in gold, embrace.  Created during the height of what scholar’s call his “Golden Period,” Klimt added gold leaf, silver and platinum to his oil paint for a richness one can appreciate only when viewed in person.  (So I’m told!  It is still on my bucket list!)  Their detailed, elaborate robes reflect a style influenced by what is known as Art Nouveau.  Considered Klimt’s masterpiece and most popular work, it is one of the major attractions at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. 

Golden Art: The Lady in Gold” or “The Woman in Gold” is rightfully titled “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” (1903-07)

It was commissioned by her husband, a Jewish banker and sugar producer. It is the final and most fully representative work of Klimt’s golden phase.  Besides being large (54” x 54”); painted with his trademark oil, silver and gold—its claim to fame is that it was stolen by the Nazis in 1941. After “hiding in plain sight” in a museum in Austria for decades, it is currently at the Neue Galerie (German for “New Gallery”), New York City, a museum of early 20th century German and Austrian art and design.


“Woman in Gold”

The 2015 British biographical drama film tells the fascinating story of Adele and her family, the painting’s colorful history and intriguing theft by the Nazi’s and its return to its family of origin decades later, thanks to the persistence of her niece,  an elderly Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles.

See the movie discussion points on the Armchair Travel Tips

Together with her young lawyer, they fought the Austrian government for almost a decade to reclaim this painting for her family, taking her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. They eventually won, and it became a landmark victory for all the other claims on art stolen by Hitler that, after the war, had been absorbed into museums and private collections all over the world.  “Woman in Gold,” is a great movie for lovers of history, lovers of art, and lovers of justice!


“The Monuments Men” (2015)

This is another great movie on the heroic saving art stolen by the Nazis with George Clooney and a host of other great actors.  This one I’ve viewed several times, and it never gets old!

It asks the timeless questions: Why save art?

See move discussion points in Armchair Travel Tips

Archival photo of the original Monuments Men uncovering a Rembrandt self portrait hidden in Austrian salt mines by the Nazis

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