On the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), the Theatermuseum is showcasing one of this great painter and graphic artist‘s most important paintings, his Nuda Veritas (1899), in a new setting against the backdrop of radical artistic reform movements in Vienna around 1900.
Vienna around 1900 is shaped by a mood of departure in the artistic, intellectual, and academic fields. The city sees a unique concentration of cultural achievements that form the ground of the Viennese Modernism. When Gustav Klimt first exhibits his painting Nuda Veritas in 1899, he is the first president of the Vienna Secession since its foundation in 1897 and one of the movement‘s figureheads. The painting is a bid for veracity in art, pleading for uncompromising artistic representation. With this work, Klimt reacts to the lack of understanding he encounters from the public. The proverbial ‚naked truth‘ steps forward as a life-size nude holding up a mirror to her beholders. ‚Know thyself‘, she seems to be demanding, and Klimt crowns her with a quote from Friedrich Schiller:
‚IF YOUR DEEDS AND YOUR ART CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE = PLEASE A FEW. TO PLEASE MANY IS TERRIBLE.‘
A radical message! It says it all – and not everyone reacts with enthusiasm.
In the new set up of the Nuda Veritas room at the Theatermuseum works originating from various collections of the museum surround Gustav Klimt's deeply symbolic painting. They were created by contemporary artists who, quite as the work demands, found their affirmation and their guidance in their own creations: Hermann Bahr, writer and playwright and one of the most important proponents of the Viennese Modernism. Anna Bahr-Mildenburg, celebrated Wagner singer at the Vienna Court Opera and Bahr's second wife. Joseph Maria Olbrich, architect of the Secession building and the villa of Hermann Bahr in the Viennese suburb Ober Sankt Veit. Gustav Mahler, director of the Vienna Court Opera, conductor and initiator of the opera reform. Eventually Alfred Roller, his congenial stage designer and his wife Mileva Roller, painter and enameller.