Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line at The Getty Center


We fell in love Gustav Klimt and his golden paintings, The Kiss and Portrait of Adele Bauer-Bloch II, when they visited town several years ago. Since then, we’ve read a few great books on the topic of fin-de-siècle Vienna and are a wee bit obsessed with the glamorous era. Now, the Getty Center brings a show featuring the artist’s drawings in concert with the city-wide festival going on in Vienna this summer that celebrates the 150th anniversary of Klimt’s birth. Here is the website for all things Klimt in Vienna, Klimt 2012.

Gustav Klimt: Magic of Line is on view at the Getty Center through September 23, and does an excellent job of introducing the novice to the work of the painter, and to instructing how the artist’s daily practice of line drawing contributed to the highly emotional content of his canvases.

Here’s our review!

Summer is a great time for date night at the Getty Center.   We just a saw the new show featuring the line drawings of Gustav Klimt and can recommend it to any adults interested in seeing a beautiful collection of line drawings and the growth of an artist of the course of his prolific life…   a life that was all too short as he died of a stroke at age 56.   The show starts with the carefully drawn early work of this most talented Viennese painter.   His studies for paintings such as the commissioned Medicine ceiling at Vienna University are beautiful and reveal his thorough understanding and appreciation for the human form.     We move through the galleries to see his rejection of the controlled academic commissions in favor of more emotional images as Klimt matured into a leader of the modernist movement in Vienna in the 1890’s.   Be sure to look for the dreamlike images of Fishblood as his style evolves.
The Getty does a particularly commendable job of bringing the Beethoven Frieze to us here, even as it remains in Vienna’s Successionist building.   As we enter the room in the show we are provided an explanation of Klimt’s inspiration for the piece as a painted interpretation of the final choral movement of Beethoven’s Fifth.   We see a diagram of his representation and are treated to an eye level look at the drawings by the artist created as studies for the finished frieze.   As we look up the wall we see a representation of one of his best known finished works.    While we will still hope to travel to Vienna one day to see the original, this show has shared this work with us, and just in time for a celebration of Beethoven’s 150th birthday… ready for the July 10th concert at the Hollywood Bowl!

Mature representations of the human form fill the final galleries of this show.  We are given insight into the diligent work of painting as we see the many line drawings made in preparation for the final works in oil.  Beautiful on their own, we loved seeing how a collection of studies are then incorporated into a single composition for the painting.  Look for the series of studies for the painting The Virgin.   These later drawings are intimate and many are openly erotic… and not the galleries for your kids.    Make this a visit for the adults and finish the day at the Getty Center’s restaurant.    It is a memorable evening with the beautiful art, the fine dining and the unmatched views from the floor to ceiling windows at The Restaurant.  The Getty Center is open every day except Monday until 5:30pm, but stays open on Fridays and Saturday’s until 9:00pm in the summer.

Please note: This show features mature content and includes many realistic and fully exposed female nudes, making it a great show for adults, but really not appropriate for kids. However there is a related exhibit that’s great for kids, that focuses on “Messerschmidt and Modernity”  July 24–October 14, 2012  

Interestingly, the Getty teamed up with the LA Phil to create a video of Klimt images to be shown on the big screen during the “Ode to Joy” portion of Beethoven’s 9th at the Hollywood Bowl on July 10. “For the choral finale, with its famous “Ode to Joy,” the LA Phil and the Getty have commissioned video imagery inspired by Gustav Klimt’s stunning Beethoven Frieze, in honor of the artist’s 150th birthday.”    – this should be a nice musical tie-in to the Getty’s presentation of Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze” in the show.

Reading Tip: For more about the fascinating journey of several of Klimt’s paintings, and their LA connection, read The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne-Marie O’Connor. Another title we like is The Hare with the Amber Eyes by  Edmund de Waal , a chronicle of other Nazi-stolen articles based on true events that gives a picture of life during Klimt’s era.

(If you purchase the books through these links, you’ll be supporting The Family Savvy!).