Gustav Klimt and His Glamorous Viennese Sirens Will Have Their First-Ever Show in California

Rodin will co-star with the famed artist in "Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter," at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Gustav Klimt, The Virgin (1913). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Prague.
Gustav Klimt, The Virgin (1913). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Prague.

One hundred years after his death, Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) is finally making his first trip to California, for an exhibition at the Legion of Honor at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The beloved Austrian artist has never had a major show on the West Coast, and this one will feature a number of works that are making their first-ever appearances in the US.

Opening October 17, the exhibition pairs the founding member of the Modernist Vienna Secession movement with French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), who died in November 1917, just three months before Klimt’s passing in February 1918. Although the two men met just once, at the 1902 Vienna Secession show “Beethoven Exhibition,” they both were artistic pioneers who broke new aesthetic ground in their work, and who were greatly inspired by the female body.

Auguste Rodin, <em>Pierre de Wiessant</em> (1886). Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Auguste Rodin, Pierre de Wiessant (1886). Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

“This exhibition will provide an insight into leading art developments in Europe at the turn of the century through the lens of two of its most important artists,” Klimt scholar Tobias G. Natter, the show’s guest curator, said in a statement.

The Legion of Honor has been celebrating the hundred-year anniversary of Rodin’s death since January, when it opened “August Rodin: The Centenary Installation.” The exhibition officially ended in April, but much of it has remained on view during two contemporary shows exploring the artist’s legacy: “Urs Fischer: The Public & the Private” (April 22–July 2) and “Sarah Lucas: Good Muse” (July 15–September 24).

Gustav Klimt, <em>The Arts, Paradise Choir, and The Embrace</em>, detail of Beethoven Frieze (1902). Courtesy of the Oesterreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Vienna, Austria © Belvedere, Vienna.

Gustav Klimt, The Arts, Paradise Choir, and The Embrace, detail of Beethoven Frieze (1902). Courtesy of the Oesterreichische Galerie im Belvedere, Vienna, Austria © Belvedere, Vienna.

“With our important Rodin collection, we are perfectly situated to engage Klimt’s masterpieces in dialogue with Rodin’s oeuvre,” Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco director and CEO Max Hollein said in a statement, calling the show “an exceptional and breathtaking opportunity to experience the art of Gustav Klimt in San Francisco.”

The upcoming exhibition will be home to 25 Rodin sculptures and 33 works by Klimt, including 17 paintings. Among the highlights will be two panels from Klimt’s famed Beethoven Frieze (1902), painted as part of the aforementioned Vienna Secessionist exhibition celebrating Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was upon seeing this work, considered the start of Klimt’s famed “golden period,” that Rodin insisted on meeting the younger artist.

Examples of Klimt’s landscapes and his well-known portraits of women will also be included.

See more work from the show below.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Baby (Cradle)</em> 1917–1918. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Gustav Klimt, Baby (Cradle) 1917–1918. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Gustav Klimt , <em>Alley in front of Castle Chamber</em> (1912). Courtesy of Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, 2892. Artothek/Bridgeman Images

Gustav Klimt , Alley in front of Castle Chamber (1912). Courtesy of Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, 2892. Artothek/Bridgeman Images

Gustav Klimt, The Black Feather Hat (1910). Courtesy of the Neue Galerie.

Gustav Klimt, The Black Feather Hat (1910). Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Lake Attersee (Am Attersee)</em> (1900). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum.

Gustav Klimt, Lake Attersee (Am Attersee) (1900). Courtesy of the Leopold Museum.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Portrait of a Lady</em> (1917–18). Courtesy of Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, inv. nr. 3. Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria/Bridgeman Images.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of a Lady (1917–18). Courtesy of Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, inv. nr. 3. Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria/Bridgeman Images.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Portrait of Sonja Knips</em> (1898). Courtesy of Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Sonja Knips (1898). Courtesy of Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Johanna Staude</em> (1917–1918). Courtesy of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.

Gustav Klimt, Johanna Staude (1917–1918). Courtesy of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.

Gustav Klimt, <em>Portrait of Ria Munk III</em> (1917), unfinished. Courtesy of the Lewis Collection/the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Ria Munk III (1917), unfinished. Courtesy of the Lewis Collection/the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter” is on view at the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco, October 14, 2017–January 28, 2018.


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