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Posts tagged ‘Klimt’

Post 1002 | Kissing Norms win top spot for Saint Valentine’s

Exactly 6 years ago to the day, I posted my latest painted Norm interpretation of a world-renowned masterpiece: The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt. The original is one of art history’s most enduring images of love, passion and even, it is suggested, an enigmatic forced passion, although in my Norm version, there is nothing but pure and tender affection to be seen between these two loved-up Norms. Indeed, my Norm version of Klimt’s masterpiece proved almost as popular as original. With well over 10,000 views, this painting is by far the most admired of my Norm paintings to have been posted on The Daily Norm. What a perfect coincidence then that it should be this iconic image of love which makes the top of the Norm greatest hit list on this, St Valentine’s Day, in what is also a week of celebration for the Daily Norm’s reaching 1000 posts.

Klimt Norms FINAL

Klimt Norms (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2012, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas)

So while I go all loved up and celebratory over this much loved and far-reaching image of Norm passion, as well as for all the Norm images that have gone before and since, what more can be said than to thank all the readers of The Daily Norm who have given this, and other Norm images their love over the last 6 years, and the masterful, enigmatic Klimt of course, whose original image lay the foundation for this interpretation. Valentine’s love can manifest in many different ways. So whether you’re snuggled up to a loved one, a friend, or just loving doing you’re favourite things this Valentine’s Day, be sure to feel the love and enjoy it. 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2011-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Onwards to Vienna, Part 3: Palaces of Art

To say that there is a lot of art in Vienna is like saying there are a lot of paellas in Spain. The city literally lives, breathes and exudes art from its every corner and facet. Everywhere you go, large posters advertise the latest sensational exhibition appearing at the Leopold, or the Albertina, while inside the Belvedere and the Kunsthistoriches museums, some of the most famous paintings ever known to the history of art happily reside. We were literally astonished by the wealth of art contained within a small central core of the city, and by the end of our trip were rendered utterly exhausted by the amount of art we saw. But we were all the more fulfilled as a result.

If I were to reproduce a photo of all the paintings we saw in permanent collections and temporary shows alike, the single blog post resulting would probably keep you scrolling downwards for a lifetime. Rather than do that therefore, I wanted to focus a little on the majestic buildings which host Vienna’s amassed artistic treasures, before showing you just a few of the works on show within them.

Almost unable to take in the breadth of art at the Kunsthistoriches Museum

Almost unable to take in the breadth of art at the Kunsthistoriches Museum

There was no missing the incredible grandeur of the building hosting the Kunsthistoriches Museum (The History of Art Museum), which sits opposite its domed twin – a duo of palaces built some 150 or so years ago upon the advent of the Ringstrasse. With an art collection mainly built up over successive generations of Hapsburg rule, and containing breathtaking masterpieces by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Velazquez, it is no wonder that the museum is visited by more than 1.5 million people every year. But beyond the art on the walls, what is truly momentous is the building itself which, tailor-created especially to hold the very collection which graces the building today, is filled with every kind of creative lavishness, from murals to sculptures, friezes and reliefs, and chief amongst them all, some beautiful wall murals by Gustav Klimt himself.

Klimt murals in the main hallway of the Kunsthistoriches Museum

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Klimt was of course to take centre stage across Vienna’s artistic offerings, not only in the galleries but in every manifestation of souvenir and guidebook. At the core of the city’s multifaceted Klimt showcase, his famous painting The Kiss lords over all the rest, glimmering with its multi-layered gold leaf in a long gallery on one side of the Upper Belvedere gallery. This equally spectacular palace is just one half of an iconic centre of art which offers exhibitions in both the Upper and Lower galleries and whose buildings are laced with all of the elaborate pomp intended by the original owner, Prince Eugene of Savoy, to evoke the magnificent of his various 17th century military successes.

The beautiful Belvedere

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But back to the 20th century, and my favourite of all the Klimt spectacles is the Secession building, a glimmering gold spectacle of modernism constructed in the Jugendstil style as a showcase for the Secession movement’s artists, chief amongst whom was of course Klimt himself. And today, the star attraction is Klimt’s allegorical Beethoven Frieze, one of the most iconic of the artist’s works.

The Secession Building and Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze

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In all, during 4 days in the city of Vienna, we visited some 8 galleries, an equal number of permanent exhibitions and an additional 12 temporary exhibitions. The vast wealth of art on offer was simply mind blowing, from the ancient treasures of the Kunsthistoriches museum and the delicate 19th century works of the Belvedere, to the in depth studies of Klimt and Schiele in the Leopold museum, and the incredible collection of impressionist art in the Albertina. Below are just a few photos of the many artistic treasures we saw. Far too many to take in, but we made and enjoyed our every attempt.

Valentine’s Kisses: Norms do… Klimt

It’s valentine’s day, the day when millions of singletons across the globe shrink in disgust at the notable increase of embracing couples on the streets and inappropriate PDAs (public displays of affection), and when millions more feel the pressure of their partner’s expectation that they out do last year’s offerings with overpriced roses and a box of unwanted chocolates. But none of that here. At the Daily Norm, valentine’s is just an excuse to celebrate the more intimate, emotional side of art, while also using it as an opportunity to present a brand new Norm painting to the world! When I think of love, there is only one painting which comes to mind. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the same image which dominates the search results page when you type “The Kiss” into google. It is, of course the world’s must famous and celebrated embrace, The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt. And here, for your viewing pleasure, is the Norm re-inactment along with the original.

The Kiss (after Klimt) (acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1907-8, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna)

It’s a crying shame that like Van Gogh’s sunflowers, or Monet’s bridge/waterlillies, or Degas’ ballerinas, Klimt’s masterful golden embrace has become so commercialised, replicated and reproduced onto every form of tourist tack, from lamps and mousemats to beaded curtains and bed linen, that the automatic reaction of a viewer to the image is to see it through a kind of autopilot. As with all recognition, one fails to actually look, really look at the image. When I embarked upon a Norm version of Klimt’s work, this is exactly what I had to do. Whereas previously I had dismissed the image as cliché, when I started painting my own version, I saw so much more.

The Kiss (after Klimt) (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) - detail of male Norm

First of all, the painting is a superb fusion of evocative emotion mixed with art nouveau-inspired flattened design. It makes for an interesting synthesis, and seems to emphasise and centralise the intensity of the embrace all the more, since the power of the emotion charging through the embrace appears to have instigated the creation of a fantasy world around the couple, as they appear to burst out of a planet of flowers, and all around them, a cosmos of golden stars twinkle. The patterns of the clothing are also interesting. With squares and geometric patterning, the man’s clothing appears quite strong and masculine, where as the woman exudes a more feminine softness with round flowery shapes and waves. However, interestingly the fusion between the characters seems to translate into their clothing, as interspersed between the man’s squares are small patches of swirls, while on the woman, round shapes are occasionally interrupted by squares, particularly where her body touches the man’s. Moreover, the aura-like golden space around them is full of swirls which appear like stars or moving, active emotions. Also, at the bottom of the canvas, the abundant flowing golden plants trailing off the couple seem to suggest fertility, not least because of  the prominence of the upturned triangle which hints at female sexual organs.

The Kiss (after Klimt) (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) - detail of female Norm

More interesting still is the pose. From the painting’s title, one would draw the inference that this is a happy, loving embrace. However, having studied the work more closely, there is, to my mind, something all the more sinister about the pose. While the man stands tall and rather menacing with his black hair and firm grip of the lady, she appears to be subservient in the embrace, kneeling before the man. She appears to hold the man, not tenderly, but as though trying to loosen his grasp on her. Notably, her right arm appears to be screwed up into a tense fist rather than tenderly resting upon his shoulder. It also seems significant that the kiss is not on her lips but her cheek, as though the lady has turned her face just in time to avoid the man’s approach.

As with most great masterpieces, much is left to the public’s interpretation, but I am at least glad that in Normyfying this work, it has given me the opportunity to study it further and give it the kind of appreciation it deserves. As for my Norm reimagining, I think that the pose lends itself well to the Norms who, in their curved body shapes, fit effortlessly into the art nouveau theme of the original. Here the awkwardness of the embrace could still be interpreted either way, although as Norms only have one arm, my lady Norm is without her right screwed up fist, while the man cannot grip so firmly upon his Norm lover with his second hand. There was a lot of detail which needed painting in order to do Klimt’s original justice, and as the main photograph doesn’t necessarily show this up, I have included close up detail shots of my Norms (above), as well as a photo showing the effect of the gold leaf when a flash is used on my camera below.

The Kiss (after Klimt) (acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown) - showing effect of a flash on the gold

In the meantime I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s day, hoping that the day is everything you want it to be (if only if it means the effective avoidance of couples!). For those of you more inclined towards all things romantic, I leave you with a gallery of some of my favourite artistic manifestations of kisses, from Rodin’s sculpture to my own Norm version of Robert Doisneau’s Le Bazier de l’Opera.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2005-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.