When we think of Gustav Klimt, we think of luxuriant women, some nude, richly embellished with gold and adorned with swirls, triangles, stylized flowers. We may think of his portraits of the Viennese upper bourgeoisie in the years immmediately preceding the First World War. What we consider less often is his landscapes, to which this book is entirely devoted. All the landscapes he ever painted are depicted here, including the half dozen or so that were sadly destroyed by fire in the last days of World War Two.
Klimt was not commissioned to paint landscapes ; instead, he painted them whilst on his annual holidays, as a form of relaxation and also as a way of trying out new techniques. They are very good ; just because he was painting whilst on holiday didn't mean that Klimt was going to be careless ! I'm struck by how much these paintings GLOW. They are very sensuous, making me feel I can reach out and actually touch the pink roses, or the bark of the beech trees, or the waters of the Attersee in the middle of summer. They are spring and summer landscapes (autumn and winter was always spent in Vienna) and their mood is optimistic though never kitsch. There is none of van Gogh's angst in these works, though Koja points out that van Gogh was an influence. Perhaps they are nearer to the work of Monet.
I'm really glad I found this book. Available in paperback as well as hardback, it is reasonably priced and the number of colour reproductions, as well as many photographs of Klimt and his set, make it very enjoyable as well as informative.
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