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[Opinion] Gustav Klimt in Korea

Posted January. 31, 2009 19:39,   


Austria was once a great empire. Austrians are still proud of their nation, which is considered a cultural hub in the world. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the country`s most famous musician and undeniably, Gustav Klimt is Austria`s most famous artist. His masterpiece "The Kiss" in Belvedere Museum in Vienna is considered a national treasure. Klimt is known as a symbolist painter. Symbolism is known for its emphasis on dreamy images as opposed to realism.

The Austrian painter has drawn much popularity across the world. His "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" was sold for 135 million dollars in 2006, the highest price for a painting at that time. His paintings have drawn much attention since the 1990s and many Klimt fans have appeared in Korea. His paintings have appeared on calendars and advertisements. Even teens use stationary on which "The Kiss" is painted when writing love letters. His works, however, are largely absent in art classes due to their erotic themes. It is unusual for an unfamiliar painter to draw so much attention.

Klimt’s paintings have the ability to fascinate people. The mysterious appeal of figures in his paintings with elegant gold shades captivates spectators. The painter produced many works in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, anxiety, depression and voluptuous beauty dominated the art world. What Klimt and Koreans have in common is great sensibility. Koreans are drawn to his paintings perhaps because of their great sensibility.

Seoul Arts Center will hold a Klimt exhibition for the first time in Korea. At the exhibition, 200 pieces of his works including 30 oil paintings will be displayed from Monday, including "Judith I" and "Adam and Eve." The exhibition will make Korea second only to Austria in the number of Klimt’s paintings displayed. Japan has shown only several works of Klimt. The insurance value of the paintings set for display in Korea is one billion euros (1.3 billion U.S. dollars). The exhibition will be a precious chance for Korean art fans.

Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)