Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Prints and Drawings

Gustav Klimt, Draftsman

Gustav Klimt did not speak about his art, but he left many drawings that attest to the richness of his creative process. Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line, opening today at the Getty Center, coaxes these drawings to speak, revealing how he thought and worked.

Klimt drew daily and obsessively from life. He hired models to come to his studio, where he posed and reposed them, making study after study to work out postures, gestures, and expressions. In his drawings, Klimt explored the human form in every age, every stage: infant, youth, pregnant, mature, aged—even after death, as skeleton. There are wrestlers, women of society, lovers, mothers, gorgons.

Many of the drawings in the show are studies for Klimt’s better-known paintings, and the exhibition shows how these works—hard, now, to imagine any other way—evolved. Adele Bloch-Bauer makes several appearances in flowing studies of pose and expression. One drawing of an embracing couple shows a hungry abandon, another a still tenderness; both were made in connection with his iconic painting The Kiss.

Klimt was a painstaking and slow painter, but a swift and decisive draftsman. These fluid, immediate works on paper reveal how he used line to explore his great subject, the human condition.

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      ROSE

      This milky pink boomed into popularity because of a marketing ploy, a mistress, and its ambiguous origins.

      In an effort to compete with the renowned Meissen porcelain factory, the French Sèvres manufactory recruited the glamorous Madame de Pompadour (mistress to King Louis XV). Like a smart sponsorship deal, Sèvres gave her all the porcelain she requested. 

      Introduced in 1757, this rich pink exploded on the scene thanks to favoritism by Madame Pompadour herself. 

      The glaze itself had a weird history. To the Europeans it looked Chinese, and to the Chinese it was European. It was made based on a secret 17th-century glassmaker’s technique, involving mixing glass with flecks of gold.

      For more on colors and their often surprising histories, check out The Brilliant History of Color in Art.

      12/19/14

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