Our SundayArts Choice centers around Klimt’s famous painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer in the exhibit Klimt: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections.
In 1903, Klimt visited the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna, Italy, and was impressed by these exquisite works, in which the figure of the Empress Theodora is rendered in a bejeweled setting inlaid with gold. Upon his return to Vienna, he began to work in what became known as his “Golden Style,” incorporating gold elements into both his allegorical and portrait paintings. In Adele Bloch-Bauer I, one of Klimt’s greatest achievements, gold is used in a variety of contexts, from the lustrous background to the shining fabric of Adele’s gown. The subject seems to become one with her glowing surroundings, yet a distinctive and tenderly drawn figure emerges from the profusion of decorative motifs. Adele appears as a modern, complex woman, her intelligence as evident as her sensuality. Her hands are folded in such a way as to conceal her deformed finger, yet the gesture only adds to her mysterious grace.
This famous piece is part of the Neue Gallerie’s collection made available in part through the generosity of the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer.