First Exhibition Devoted to Gustav Klimt's Landscapesopens at the Clark Art Institute June 16
For Immediate Release
April 22, 2002
The first exhibition devoted to Gustav Klimt's landscapes, which are virtually unknown outside of Austria, will be introduced to American audiences this summer, organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The Clark is the only North American venue for Gustav Klimt Landscapes, on view from June 16 to September 2. The exhibition features the lush, colorful landscapes by the great Viennese artist, whose favorite subjects include the orchards, woods, gardens, and villas around the Attersee in western Austria. Many of the paintings in the exhibition are from private and European collections.
"Klimt was a landscape painter of exceptional daring, who built on the influence of Japanese art, the work of Van Gogh and Cézanne, Austrian landscape traditions, and his own Viennese modernism to create something entirely new and radical," said Richard Rand, senior curator at the Clark. "Gustav Klimt Landscapes features evocative paintings with brilliant colors and tapestry like effects by one of the great artists of the turn-of-the-century. The effect of these canvases is completely mesmerizing."
Gustav Klimt painted 55 landscapes between 1898 and his death in 1918. The artist spent many vacations in the region surrounding the Attersee, a lake near Salzburg. Like many affluent Viennese, Klimt was drawn to the area's culture of relaxation and leisure, and this phenomenon known as "Sommerfrische" inspired his paintings. Twelve of the large, mosaic-like paintings, each more than three feet square, will be featured in the Clark exhibition.
Klimt's landscapes combine a decorative style influenced by Japanese art, with keen observation and delicate sensitivtity to atmosphere and space. After 1902, Klimt's landscapes reflect the strong influence of Pointillism and a daring approach to color. Paintings such as Roses Under Trees (c. 1905, Musée d'Orsay, Paris) include scenes of sweeping, flowering trees created from single planes of fragmented brushstrokes. Later landscapes show his interest in the work of Van Gogh and Cézanne. A quiet, chapel-like installation at the Clark will enhance the powerful experience of these works, which also include The Park (1909-1910, The Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Garden Landscape with Hilltop (1916, Kunsthaus Zug/Foundation Kamm Collection, Switzerland).
Born in 1862, Gustav Klimt dominated the art scene in Vienna from 1900 to 1918, the Vienna of Sigmund Freud and Gustav Mahler. While trained in the realistic classical style of painting, Klimt's art took a more modern direction and in 1897 he helped form the Association of Austrian Visual Artists, widely known as the Secession, which played a central role in the development of modernism in painting. He is perhaps best known for his lush, erotic female figures and the embracing couple in his most famous painting, The Kiss.
A fully illustrated catalogue will be published by Prestel in both German and English editions. Guest curator for the exhibition is Stephan Koja, curator of 19th-century painting at the Galerie Belvedere.
"This exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore this little-known but important aspect of Klimt's work," said Clark director Michael Conforti. "The qualities of these wonderful landscapes are strikingly modern, and I think visitors will appreciate the sensuous style that makes Klimt's figural paintings so appealing while discovering him as an extraordinary landscapist."
The Klimt show will be accompanied by three focused exhibitions that explore the deep cultural change that Vienna experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bernardo Bellotto's cityscapes of Vienna from 1758 to 1761 will show the old city at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Rarely seen furniture and silver created for the influential Wittgenstein family by designer Josef Hoffman will represent the innovative Secessionist movement. An exhibition of architect Otto Wagner's work will focus on designs for the never-built Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
The Clark's Vienna exhibitions are part of "The Vienna Project," a collaboration of eleven leading Berkshire cultural attractions during the summer and fall of 2002. Programs range from the age of Mozart to the present and include art exhibitions, music, theater, opera, and film. Participating organizations are: the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA, Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Opera, the Berkshire Museum, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and the Berkshire Choral Festival. For more information visit www.berkshirearts.org. The wide range and quality of cultural organizations in Berkshire County-which rivals that of a major city-as well as the area's scenic beauty and outdoor recreation make the Berkshires "America's Premier Cultural Resort." For information on lodging, dining, and travel visit www.berkshires.org or call 1-800-237-5747.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by the beauty of its 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. The Clark is also recognized for its special exhibitions, such as the recent Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1890, which concurrently advance critical thought and generate popular interest in the arts. The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history, which has been part of the professional development of a significant number of directors of art museums, curators, and scholars. The Clark's Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world to pursue research and share new scholarship. The Institute encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. The Clark also is home to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, which serves more than 50 institutions in the region and also provides professional training in art conservation.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May. For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.