Tuesday, July 03, 2012

like a fruit the stone

Death & Man, Egon style
Yesterday I took a break from my Habsburg-Wittelsbach obsession to check in some other Viennese icons. Turns out we inadvertently planned our trip during Klimt summer. It's Klimt, Klimt, Klmt, everywhere you look--him in his mental patient-looking smock holding a cat, him on a Saltzkammergut lake with his intrepid lover, Emilie. The Kiss, the pointillist landscapes, the bling-gold Bloch Bauer.

At the Leopold, the exhibit is based on postcards found in the closets and drawers of Emilie Floge, his long-term companion. I have to say, Klimt's people were a lot better at hiding scandal than were Egon Schiele's. Klimt basically had affairs and/or impregnated all of his models (several of his bastard kids ended up being named Gustav, after their randy daddy), but if there were any epistolary references to these torrid affairs, they were well hidden (burned).

Instead of declarations of love (or lust) the postcards are full of banal musings, such as: After breakfast, which I ate at 9, I painted a beech tree. Yawn.

Now, Klimt was one hell of an artist, but he just wasn't as interesting a person as that other dude--the young, crazed poster child for suffering, Egon Schiele. Egon, who admittedly died too young (28) to carry on decades of scandal, was sort of the inverse of his rival. Whereas Klimt was a generalist-and popular with collectors who liked a little Austrian sentimentality with their nudes, Schiele's work was deeply, profoundly personal. Take the brilliant Cardinal and Nun, for instance (Caress). Shame and sacred side-by-side. It's been called a paraphrase of The Kiss, Schiele's version of ecstasy. Now that's the real Austrian theme!

My favorite take-away from my non-Sisi day was the commentary on Self Seer, Schiele's Death and Man piece. It's an illustration of Rilke's notion that: "one carries one's death around like a fruit the stone." Love that!

So, what kind of fruit are you?


  1. I'm a peach. Juicy and sweet, but you might lose a tooth on that stone.

    My favorite artist is Chagall. His lovers float across the canvas like untethered balloons, unabashedly joyful. I'm crazy for the anti-angst in him.

    1. What a romantic you are. And yes, a peach. All the way.

  2. right now i'm feeling like an over ripe pineapple, all prickly on the outside and mushy and juicy inside.

    (maybe "painted a beech tree" was a euphemism? no? "i got my beech tree painted, yo!"

  3. Prickly and mushy are a terrific combination. And probably an important one, too. Gotta protect the goodies.

    Klimt was full of codes, I'm sure. Have you ever looked at The Kiss? All those rectangles on the boy partner and the circles on the girl? The fallace of it, erect and springing out of pointillist pubes? At least Schiele just stuck his actual cock in the paintings. Well, sometimes.

  4. the kiss is one of my mom's most favorite paintings. i've looked at it often and noticed the geographic shapes but don't think until now have realized the triangle-male/circle-female connections. weird how sometimes we miss the most obvious things.

    right now, i am imagining all great male painters literally sticking their cock's in the paintings, using them as their paintbrushes. in fact, now that i have this image in my storage bank, i will try to pull it out every time i'm looking at a portrait and think, "wow, that artist really knew how to work his cock." and then i will giggle to myself.

    sorry--i think i just reduced your austrian art experiences to a 14-year old boy's interpretation of all fine art in 50 words or less.

    1. Is there any other way to interpret art? I think not!

  5. I'm a fruit salad with lots of melon.

    Alas, I never could draw or paint worth a damn. My missing cock is to blame. I'm sure of it.

    P.S. Now I'm going to have to go back and study Klimt and Schiele. I can't walk around uneducated about such things!

    1. I'd live to know your thoughts once you've digested those two bad boys, Lisa!


Thanks for commenting. If you have trouble posting a comment, let me know! suzyvitello@gmail.com