Vienna museum’s ‘Stairway to Klimt’ takes visitors to new heights

Source:AFP Published: 2018/2/13 17:48:40

Bust of Gustav Klimt Photo: IC

Visitors to Vienna's art history museum on Monday enjoyed a closer look at 13 of Gustav Klimt's unsung masterpieces thanks to a walkway erected over a monumental central stairway.

The sprawling Kunsthistorisches Museum, opened in 1891 under Emperor Franz-Joseph, houses one of Europe's most important art collections while also showcasing interior design by the cream of Vienna's artists and sculptors.

Among those commissioned to decorate the building was Klimt, then 28 and considered a rising star of the Austrian neo-classical school.

But until now the museum's 1.4 million annual visitors could only admire the paintings from afar.

The eye-level experience is well worth the climb up the Stairway to Klimt, as the museum has dubbed the new installation, in a nod to the song by heavy-metal band Led Zeppelin.

Paying homage to the Venetian, Roman and Florentine traditions of the Quattrocento, as well as to Egyptian art, the superbly preserved works are testament to the young Klimt's artistic maturity and hint at the future course of the Vienna Secession.

They show his use of gilding, full-length portraits, monumental motifs inspired by Japanese prints and above all a delicate sensuality.

"Even though still attached to historicism, the work already shows the beginnings of Modernism," said Daniel Uchtmann, art historian at the KHM.

The Stairway to Klimt is part of dozens of exhibitions being held in Austria this year to mark the centenary of Klimt's death on February 6, 1918.

The stairway will stay in place until September 2.

Posted in: ART

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