Face to Face with Gustav Klimt
The Klimt-Bridge in the Kunsthistorisches Museum
Because of its sensational success, the Klimt-Bridge erected in the Main Staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum will remain until January 6, 2013, offering visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy a close-up view of Klimt’s early paintings displayed in situ twelve metres above the floor.
In 1890/91 the twenty-eight-year-old Gustav Klimt executed a number of paintings to decorate the spaces between the columns and above the arcades along the north wall of the KHM’s main staircase. The committee in charge of the newly-built Imperial Museum of Fine Arts (today the Kunsthistorisches Museum) had commissioned a series of forty paintings from a group of young artists called the Company of Artists – Gustav Klimt, his younger brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch – featuring different periods of art from Ancient Egypt to the 18th century.
Personifications – either male and female, or female only – symbolize different stylistic periods, regions or centers of art. Pose, costume and selected objects perfectly reflect style and artifacts typical of each period.
Gustav Klimt contributed a total of thirteen paintings. All were executed in oil on canvas in the Company of Artists’ communal studio; in 1891, six months before the formal opening of the museum, they were glued to the wall of the main staircase.