More than one hundred years ago, Art Nouveau appeared as an international style, quickly changing the way people perceived art-making whether it was painting, architecture, or applied arts. The idea was to explore different modalities of work to create a complete masterpiece and such an approach is best expressed by the most influential painter of the period, Gustav Klimt.
The sensational imagery of gold leaf embalmed fantastic representations of the female principle still captures the imagination of many, so it is not unusual that Klimt’s art is very often the subject of numerous exhibitions.
The current one titled Gustav Klimt: Gold and Color that takes place at the Bordeaux Submarine Base is part of the larger project the Bassins de Lumières, and it brings the most iconic paintings made by this master in a form of a flamboyant immersive installation.
Conceived by the video makers Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto, and Massimiliano Siccardi the current exhibition brings animations based on works by the leading Viennese Symbolist painter through six thematic sections.
The visitors can grasp Klimt’s Golden Period, portraits, and landscapes, and the significance of his successors, especially Egon Schiele, who felt very inspired by the elderly colleague while developing his own astounding imagery focused on landscapes and the human body.
The first sequence of images titled Neoclassical Vienna starts from the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, the unique architectural site, along with the works by the painter Hans Makart, and the young Gustav Klimt, all edited to represent the spirit of the time.
The following then leads us through a new driving force of the Vienna art scene during the first decade of the 20th century around the famous Vienna Secession, while the third one shows how Klimt gradually developed his signature golden style.
The fourth features Klimt’s fascination with nature, especially the gardens, orchards, and meadows; the fifth exposes the, as mentioned, the artworks of Egon Schiele, while the sixth, the ending one pays homage to Klimt’s celebrated depictions of female beauty.
This particular immersive exhibition coincided with the smaller one which is devoted to the vibrant abstractions by Paul Klee. The renowned German painter was also a musician, the fact highlighted with this exhibition.
Regardless of the effort enforced in this project which also features additional immersive installations unrelated to the two devoted to iconic modernists (Ocean Data and Anitya), the Klimt exhibition and the whole project practically serve as a commercial spectacle.
It relates to the fact Klimt's artwork in the last couple of decades became so commodified as it was used for high pitch marketing and the decoration of different products (especially in his native city, Vienna). Overconsumed and almost drained of its initial content, Klimt’s art apparently never seizes to capture the minds of those hungry for profit. Therefore, this exhibition doesn’t seem to bring anything new and exciting in the terms of interpretation and moderation, rather it stimulates the superficial fancy through the lens of the theme park, cheesy amusement.
Gustav Klimt: Gold and Colour will be on view at the Submarine base in Bordeaux within the Bassins de Lumières until 3 January 2021.
Featured image: Gustav Klimt Gold and Colour Installation view; Paul Klee Painting Music Installation view. Courtesy of Culturespaces - Nuit de Chine; © akg-images / Erich Lessing; © Heritage Images / Fine Art Images.