Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Liverpool Tate

Mum and Roger came to stay for the weekend and the highlight of the visit was to be our trip to see the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Liverpool Tate

Roger has been a huge fan of Klimt for over 20 years and their house is full of Klimt paintings (sadly not the originals, otherwise my life might have taken a whole different turn...!)

We booked our tickets about two months in advance, and it was just as well because the place was heaving. Although how much of that was to do with the coincidence of the Tall Ships being on the Dock, I couldn't say - but you were supposed to pre-book tickets, not just turn up on the day. We fought our way to the gallery through the thousands of people queueing up for a look at the ships moored there. What a great day to show off Liverpool!

Anyway we were in a huge queue inside the Tate, even for our 2.30pm booking, so we were taken to one side by a very helpful steward and advised to bypass the queue by going up the fourth floor first, seeing what was the "end" of the exhibition, and then to go back to the ground floor for the "beginning" in the hope we would miss the worst of the crowding round pictures.

This we did, but unfortunately it meant we missed out on the free guidebook, so we looked at some great stuff upstairs, went back downstairs, against the flow, in the massive industrial goods lift and looked round the ground floor.

But I knew we must have missed a bit. I had been told by previous Liverpool visitors, Pat, Cath and Steve that there was a particular exhibition of drawings that were considered pornographic 100 years when they were drawn (and would be thought so today by some people, believe me) and we had not seen them. (Mum and I giggled a little bit at the names of some of the drawings "Nude with left leg raised" hardly told the story at all, for instance, did it?)

So I found my way back to the front desk, got the booklet, checked it out and learned that there were two parts to the fourth floor and we had only seen half of it.

So back upstairs we went to the fourth floor and found a whole host of riches we would not have wanted to miss!

I think my favourite was the Beethoven frieze, probably because the end piece, Ode to Joy, is reproduced in Mum and Roger's living room in a particularly large painting and it was like greeting an old friend.

But there were other wonderful paintings that I loved. The "Three stages of life" is fantastic, as is the portrait of Marie Henneberg, and the unfinished Baby in a cradle.

Mixed in were some pieces from Charles Rennie McIntosh and some other wonderful artists and creative people. I particularly admired Hoffman's silver cutlery.

If you have not been, do go, and not just because of the pornography either! Klimt was a master before his time. He showed the way, 100 years in some cases, before others caught up with applying a similar style.

Klimt has been part of my family life for decades, perhaps it is time he was part of yours too?

PS When I was in the Tate two weeks ago with Cath and Steve, Rodin's Kiss was open to be touched or admired in the reception, as it has been for months since its installation. This week it was behind a wall of perspex. What is that all about then?

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