Gustav Klimt is an artist that I studied my early years at Art Center College of Design.  There is something mesmerizing about is work – mystical and magical – sensuous and magnetic.  Although I have seen his work in print hundreds of times, I have never seen his original work – up close and personal.  I hope to soon – Scott

Gustav Klimt: 150 Anniversary Celebration

Few artists evoke the troubled opulence of Vienna before World War I as vividly as Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Neue Galerie has mounted an exhibition of paintings and drawings from its own and private collections.

“Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration” is not the exhausting blockbuster you might expect. Instead, having staged a larger Klimt show in 2007, the Neue Galerie has now zeroed in on some of his top works, offering a succinct and cogent presentation of Klimt’s fairly rapid artistic evolution from polished academic realism toward his distinct, increasingly abstract style vividly linked to Art Nouveau.

Klimt absorbed old and recent influences as he needed them, from ancient Egypt and Byzantium through 19th-century Orientalism, Impressionism and Symbolism. Among the show’s landscapes, “The Park of Schloss Kammer” (c. 1910) presents a shimmering blend of French influences—the massive trees and dappled background light rendered with Pointillist textures, the opalescent lake suggesting one of Monet’s water-lily views. “Forester House in Weissenbach on the Attersee” (1914) is another wonderfully decorative composition, its textures of slate roof, flower-strewn lawn and vine-covered wall punctuated by the open casement windows whose slightly wavy delineation conjures up the flamelike intensity of Van Gogh.

Beyond the visual impact of Klimt’s portraits and figure studies, their allure rides upon their libidinous candor. In the era when the essentially conservative Viennese were disquieted by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical probing into the unconscious, Klimt’s increasingly rebellious imagery disturbed the establishment. He loved women, and his posing, floating and reclining female subjects seem sexually aware—and willing. Even when they aren’t nude, he implies they ought to be.

Thus Klimt, who in 1897 co-founded the anticonservative artists group Vienna Secession, was at the artistic center of an imperial capital increasi