Monday, January 30, 2012

Self-immolation in gold leaf

Pop music has been eating itself for the last few decades. The world of the visual arts is catching up quicker than you can read another curator's catalogue essay about the glory days of Vienna and the beginnings of modernism. The world's great galleries and museums never seem to tire of raking over the coals of the Klimt-Schiele-Hoffmann-Freud-Mahler complex in search of yet another way to present the ever-fascinating "beginnings of modernism".

The Austrian Belvedere Gallery in Vienna is the latest contributor to the all-too-familiar pantheon of exhibitions in the "fin de si├Ęcle Vienna" genre. Under the imaginative title "Klimt / Hoffmann, Pioneers of Modernism" the Belvedere is currently running an exhibition that yet again tries to breathe life into this old war horse.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt's birth and no doubt the Belvedere is only one of numerous galleries around the world that will be cashing in on the event. There is certainly plenty of money to be made out of Klimt's big gold masterpieces. What a pity it is that there is so little new to be said about them.

Self-immolation in gold leaf promises to be the most appropriate title for much of the coming year on the international art exhibition circuit.

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