Gustav Klimt, “Die Poesie (detail Beethoven Frieze),” 1901/2, gold, graphite, and casein paint, 7 feet, one inch x 9 feet, 4 inches

The well-documented influence of classical art and antiquity on the artwork of modern icon Gustav Klimt is the focus of this must-see exhibition in Vienna.

Vienna’s Belvedere Museum recently opened “Klimt and Antiquity,” an engaging exhibition that seeks to illustrate a development in the artist’s career, one that saw his interest in Historicism evolve into a spirit of antiquity. In addition to several of Klimt’s most memorable paintings, curators have juxtaposed antiques, including a Greek vase and casts of sculptures that were known to have inspired Klimt.

Via the museum, “Further highlights are Klimt’s illustrations for a new edition of Dialogues of the Courtesans by Lucian (c. 120–185 A.D.). Published in 1907, this erotic compilation represents a perfect pairing of Klimt’s risqué drawings with Josef Hoffmann’s Wiener Werkstätte design to create one of European Jugendstil’s most beautiful books. Select examples of Attic red-figure vase paintings offer a glimpse of the world in which the classical author Lucian set his Dialogues of the Courtesans. Although separated by more than two millennia, the interplay between classical vase painting and Klimt’s linear art reveals surprising correlations, unveiling new perspectives on how the artist appreciated antiquity.”

“Klimt and Antiquity” continues through October 8. To learn more, visit the Belvedere Museum.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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