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Tag: gustav klimt

Birth of the White Cube

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“To every time its Art. To Art its Freedom.” These are the words that adorn the Secession Building in Vienna Austria. Built in 1898 by Architect Joseph Olbrich, this gallery was to become one of the very first ‘White Cubes’. What we now see as commonplace was a radical idea at the time. Strip the room bare of all other distractions and let the Art take center stage. The building was to act as the main exhibition space for the newly formed Secessionist group led by Gustav Klimt. The Secessionists were rejecting the art establishment of the time and wanted to forge new paths that bridged many of the different arts together to create an artistic synergy. Influenced by the Jungendstil and Art Nouveau movements along with Japanese art that was proliferating Europe at the end of the 19th century, the Secession movement wanted to combine fine and decorative arts and work with architects and practitioners of other disciplines.

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A perfect example of this was in 1902 the Secessionists held an exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Beethoven. The show was centered around a sculpture of the composer by Max Klinger and was to act as a unification of the Arts showcasing sculpture, painting, architecture and music. The exhibition was to be ‘a total piece of Art’ or also known as Gesamtkunstwerk. 

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The totality of it’s intention is no longer intact but the highlight of the exhibition: Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze remains. Moved from it’s original place to the basement it’s a miracle it’s still around. The painting was originally meant to be temporary, only supposedly lasting as long as the original exhibition, along with the building being stripped bare during WWII make it’s presence so special.

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I got to tic another box off my art to-do list this summer. It was my second time in Vienna and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. The Belvedere Museum may have the Kiss (another must see) but The Secession Building and its splendid basement also deserves your attention and affection.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Review

BoywithApple_GBHReading a great many reviews for this film, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Many reviewers like to begin with the disclaimer: you either love Wes Anderson or you despise Wes Anderson and therefore you already know if you will enjoy this movie or not. This is an engaging notion; that the world can be easily separated into two camps with Mr. Anderson as the great divide. Should these people have their own special currency? How big is the island and when can we move there? I guess any artist with a unique voice and a cultivated style presents a polarizing proposition for your average movie goer.

Grand Budapest Hotel 500-soldiersSo what’s this movie about? It’s about: meticulous set-piece compositions, lots of horizontal tracking shots, red, purple, pink, glorious nosebleeds, playing with aspect ratios, stolen art, sex, murder, scrumptious chocolates, ski chases, a prison break, finely crafted one-liners, an impeccable soundtrack, brilliant casting, severed fingers and the relationship between a teacher and an apprentice. In short, it’s about film-making.  Wes Anderson chooses every ingredient of his films from a very select market. From the people he works with to the influences he mines, there are no loose ends. The major criticism that can be levied against him, is that in the preciousness of all the individual aspects of the films he crafts; the sum doesn’t always equal the measure of it’s parts. In truth, The Grand Budapest Hotel does suffer from this, but it’s a fair price to pay for what it gives in return.

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Now I must apologize, I got sucked down the rabbit hole that is a Wes Anderson movie review. I began reviewing the movie and devolved into reviewing Wes Anderson. I guess this is a testament to how strong his filter is. It is hard to separate the artist from the art. The Grand Budapest Hotel is truly a marvel to behold and a fun world to get lost in for an hour and forty minutes. The entire cast is exceptional even if some of them are only on screen for a fleeting moment (more Bill Murray). As an art lover, I loved his inclusion of the many Secession paintings, especially the ones resembling Egon Schiele  and Gustav Klimt. The immaculate Ralph Fiennes’ lead character shares Klimt’s first name and also his libido. When referencing Klimt it is hard to resist his overpowering aesthetic, but Anderson does this with both self assured restraint and a singular vision.

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Klimt paintings (or variations of ) that appeared in the hotel

Love him or hate him, go see this movie. It will only reaffirm your place in the universe, and that’s no small feat.

4.5/5

related:  Moonrise Kingdom: review

My week in the Cinema