~GUSTAV KLIMT, heartbreaker money-maker

. . . also a war story & a coming of age, make that prominence.

the recent blue chip modern art auctions were termed: “tepid” by the New York Times. even the New York Post chimed in:
“a stunning flop in the $1.1 billion season-opener of the art auction world.” most of this because the work offered was tired and over-priced. esp in the Picasso marts. I always thought Picasso was a snooze. I never did get the $35 million dollar prices tags. and Henri Matisse / I was over him by the time I got out of high school. but KUSTAV KLIMT – that’s another story, even though he never even really made the art school must-read lists. so it’s been real fun watching his reputation rise over the years.

in fact – it was his name being bandied about – that first drew me to the LILY RENEE story.
while in the same media week – a long fought-over GUSTAV KLIMT landscape, ‘Litzlberg am Attersee’ – was the only true break-out sale success of the auctions !!

and it was not even one of his golden flecked art deco portraits, but a lowly landscape. Estimated to go for $25,000,000 – $30,000,000 in Sotheby’s November 2, 2011 Impressionist and Modern Art Auction here in New York – it hit a record high, going for: $40,000,000. that’s 40 million big ones.

GUSTAV KLIMT, ‘Litzlberg am Attersee’ – recently sold for $40,000,000 – or almost double its estimate of $25 million.

from the New York Times article: “This landscape was thought to have been painted in Klimt’s Vienna studio in 1914 after he spent the summer with Emilie Floge, his model, in Weissenbach, a town on Lake Attersee in Austria.”

and the background story, also a Nazi era war-story, and another rare one – in that, it also came to a happy conclusion, continues thus:

“George Jorisch, an 83-year-old retired camera store manager from Montreal (!!), acquired this painting from his great-uncle, the collector and Austrian iron magnate Victor Zuckerkandle, and his wife, Paula. It had been hanging in Mr. Jorisch’s family home in Purkersdorf, Austria, but was seized during World War II. It is one of two Klimts that were returned to Mr. Jorisch after years of attempts to recover them. (The other one – ‘Church in Cassone, Landscape with Cypresses’ – sold for $43.2 million in 2010.)

read the full article: ‘A Bouquet of Offerings to Test Uncertain Waters’, by CAROL VOGEL, The New York Times, Oct 20, 2011.

KLIMT and Emilie Floge in the garden of the Josefstadterstrasse studio, c. 1905-10.
(Photograph: M. Nahr, Vienna)

Klimt’s collection of Japanese color woodcuts and c Chinese scrolls, as installed in the foyer of his last studio in Hietzing, 1914-18.
(Photograph: M. Nahr, Vienna)

so I guess it’s not far-off to say Lily Renee, brought both erotic, expressionist, and high style German cutting edge art, as well as, indirectly, Japanese and Chinese dramatic flourishes, not to forget flat compositional planes – to the comic book world of New York City, circa 1940s !!

from the same book where those above archival photos were scanned, ‘Gustav Klimt’ by Alessandra Comini, published by George Braziller, New York, 1975:

“As early as 1908 the outspoken Viennese architect and defender of a new, proto-Expressionist severity in art, Adolf Loos, had publicly accused Klimt and the artists of the Weiner Werkstatte – Vienna’s arts-and-crafts center – of erotic pollution. In a speech intending to shock the complacent bourgeoisie, and published under the title ‘Ornament and Crime” (!!), Loos discussed what he considered the erotic origin as well as the outdated “plague of ornament” besetting Austrian art:

‘All art is erotic.
The first ornament that was born, the cross was of erotic origin. The first work of art, the first artistic act which the first artist scrawled on the wall to vent his exuberance was erotic.
A horizontal line: the recumbent woman. A vertical line: the man penetrating her . . .
But the man of our own times who from an inner compulsion smears walls with erotic symbols is a criminal or a degenerate . . .
Just as ornament is no longer organically an expression of our culture.’

talk about, sock-it-to-me fascism, parading as – art criticism. but this is the passionate sophisticated and many splendored art world of early 20th C. Vienna – that incubated the artistic sensibility of the young Lily Renee . . .

GUSTAV KLIMT, ‘Friedericke Maria Beer’, 1916. oil on canvas. 168 x 130 cm. in 1975 it was in the collection of Mrs. F Beer-Monti, then residing in Honolulu (!!)
image from: ‘Gustav Klimt by Alessandra Comini. Publisher George Braziller, New York, 1975.