NGV: Klimt and Schiele

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Klimt: Portrait of Fritza Riedler

Gene and his girlfriend Anna took us to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) last Wednesday to see the Vienna exhibition, featuring the works of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Completely incredible! I don’t ever have anything particularly insightful or interesting to say about visual art, of which I know far too little, but I was struck by this work and the strange hollow/filled eye motif on the ‘fabric’ of the chair, in contrast to the gentle nobleness of her gaze.

Of course, the absolute highlight of the exhibition was the magnificent Beethoven Frieze, but I trust myself even less to speak of that!

Schiele’s works were also fascinating to see – Anna explained that his obsession with hands grew out of time spent drawing portraits of patients in an asylum, of whom many were elderly and presumably suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The hands of all his subjects, including a boy of 6, are prominent, gnarled and often curled awkwardly. That is, except for his sketch of Gustav Mahler, whose hands are conspicuous by their absence.

Also on display was Arnold Schoenberg’s portrait of Alban Berg! Oh, to have been in Europe in the early years of the 20th century, or between the wars …

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