Many years ago I hosted a birthday party at the MET (a Harry Potter scavenger hunt – highly recommended), but I’ll never forget one little 8 year old who, red-faced, immediately declared how inappropriate the museum was! I looked around in embarrassment not realizing the risqué nature of a few of the Greek and Roman statues that surrounded us with ne’er a fig leaf. Little boys and girls did not even try to stifle their giggles.
So it’s with that caveat I recommend the Klimt Gold in Motion exhibit. Yes, there are women’s bodies featured in many of his works, but if that passes muster for your family, it’s mesmerizing. The color, the detail and the incredible animation of these works will definitely impress, taking you to the artist’s dreamlike world.
It was my first viewing of an “immersive” digital art show like this, and I could see the possibilities down the road for those outside of the radius of prominent museums. I know Paris has a permanent space for such digital art shows, and now New York follows suit with Hall des Lumières at 49 Chambers, in an old Beaux-Arts bank building, formerly the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank. I can imagine many other places across the country are identifying buildings in their own communities that could be ripe for this. Certainly immersive digital experiences promise a new way of taking the art out of the museum and engaging and exciting new generations.
Klimt’s work is known for its liberal use of gold leaf and vibrant color, it shines. Floor, ceiling and every wall shows the classic Klimt works, including the ever-famous Adele Bloch-Bauer series, that had been stolen by the Nazis, and then recouped via a Supreme Court case that was later dramatized in Woman in Gold (Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds). The second in the Bloch-Bauer series was purchased in 2006 by Oprah at an auction at Christies for $88M. (It later sold for a cool $150M).
The only thing I would have liked from the exhibit was more context. I didn’t do my homework ahead of time so would suggest it for anyone checking this out. In delving in, I found that Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) grew up poor, the son of a gold engraver. He began painting murals, then paired up with artist Franz Matsch to create the Company of Artists, through which they would get commissions, including the staircases of Vienna’s Burgtheater. Later, Klimt was the founding member of the Vienna Secession a group that put on exhibitions and released a magazine featuring some of Vienna’s young and unconventional artists. Klimt never married, but reportedly carried out affairs with many of his models and is said to have fathered 14 children. He is one of the most revered 20th century decorative painters.
Downstairs at the Hall des Lumières, visitors can see other prominent members of the Vienna Secession like Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) whose work is likewise beautifully awash with color. Forms and colors, giant boats and whales take shape around you. Additional experiences downstairs include 5 Movements, a 10 minute showing of five dancers across five musical movements and Recoding Entropia, a digital experience contemplating the vastness of the mind’s possibilities that has a sci fi feel. The whole experience is coupled with beautiful music, allowing for a true sensory immersion.
Hall de Lumieres at 49 Chambers is set to be the permanent digital art center in NYC. Tickets are available in hour-long slots on Ticketmaster. Klimt Gold in Motion tickets are available for sale until December 31.