Dynamic Duo: Klimt & Rodin Take San Francisco

The works of Gustav Klimt, in all their gilded glory, are coming to the Bay Area en masse for the first time. But they won’t be alone.

Works by the artist best known as a “Vienna Secessionist” will join many of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s pieces by Rodin, creating a larger exhibition of two of the early 20th century’s powerhouse artists. Titled Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter, the show is set to open in October 2017. And according to Artnet, “[t]his exhibition will provide an insight into leading art developments in Europe at the turn of the century through the lens of two of its most important artists,” said Tobias G. Natter, Klimt scholar and the show’s guest curator, said in a statement.

Klimt’s Baby (Cradle) 1917–1918, also part of the show. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco & Artnet.

Though Rodin and Klimt are known to only have met once (at the “Beethoven Exhibition” put on by the Vienna Secessionsts in 1902, according to the Legion of Honor Museum), and may seem like “the odd couple” when paired together, the show is tied together by several themes. Artnet points out that both artists were “greatly inspired by,” if not strangely fascinated with, the female body. The two artists also died within several months of each other, with Rodin passing in 1917 and Klimt in 1918. This exhibition marks 100 years since their respective deaths, says the Legion of Honor Museum, who is hosting the show.

As contemporaries, Rodin and Klimt aren’t often the first to be paired together. And yet, when their work is put next to each others’, their works might speak to a deeper connection, or to the spirit of the age in which they worked overall. We’ll have to wait and see just how their work speaks to (or against) each other come October, when exhibition opens at the Legion of Honor Museum. (And yes, that’s the museum that Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak visit in Vertigo.)

Here are a few of the works that will appear in the show to tide us over until then, courtesy of Artnet:

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Ria Munk III (1917), unfinished, will be part of the Legion of Honor Museum’s show. Courtesy of the Lewis Collection/the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco & Artnet.


Klimt’s The Black Feather Hat (1910). Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco & Artnet.


Rodin’s Pierre de Wiessant (1886), also part of the show. Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco & Artnet.


Klimt’s Portrait of a Lady (1917–18). Courtesy of Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, inv. nr. 3. Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria/Bridgeman Images & Artnet


Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter opens October 14, 2017 at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. The show will run until January 28, 2018.

An interesting side note: The article on the exhibition from Artnet strangely reflects Klimt’s reputation for (over-)indulgence in his works: the article is “presented by Cartier,” and Calvin Klein ads plaster the web page. Which draws attention to the fact that Klimt pieces are often associated with opulence and wealth: at most, his work is sometimes seen as “shiny objects” with no solidity under their gilded surfaces. What do you think?

Discover more about the exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum’s website, and read the full article from Artnet here.

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