"There is no self-portrait of me." ~Gustav Klimt
I disagree with you, Gustav...I believe that the art you create is a sort of portrait of the artist. And I believe that the distinctive style of yours most certainly paints a portrait of you, Gustav Klimt, the artist.
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter who was a prominent artist in Art Nouveau style. Symbolism as an art form relies on metaphor and rejects the natural or realistic portrayal of subjects. Art Nouveau style was epitomized by flowing lines and symbolic deptictions and a sense of opulence and lushness. Growing up I was always fascinated by the works of Art Nouveau, literally "new art." Klimt's art is heavily influenced by Egyptian, classical Grecian and Byzantine mosaic styles. The most famous of his paintings were done in the early 1900s and were considered his "Golden Phase" since many of these portraits and depictions were heavily laden with actual gold. One of his most famous, The Kiss has always been a favorite of mine, and a poster of this is hanging in my home.
"All art is erotic." ~ Gustav Klimt
Klimt came from a family of seven who were very poor. His father was a gold engraver and several of the children showed a great aptitude for artisitic endeavors. In 1876 Klimt was awarded a scholarship to attend the Vienna school of Arts and Crafts. It was here that he refined the techniques that would later get him noticed for some very important commissions.
Well acquainted with scandalous and critical attention, Klimt's art was always highly charged with erotic scenes. In portraits he primarily painted women and especially the figure of the femme fatale, like that of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which ultimately sold at auction for $135 million in 2006, one of the highest totals ever for a single painting. Women fascinated him, and the artist was known to have had many discreet affairs fathering 14 children.
Now, I am not an art historian, but I do believe that every person needs to come to their own interpretion of a work of art. I am not denying the sexually charged nature of Klimt's work, but I have my own perspective on The Kiss in particular. I have always been drawn to the brilliant gold and the geometric decoration on this painting. I always imagined that the woman in this particular painting was like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The long lines of the flowered robes that entwine the couple make me think of the way in which a relationship can envelope you completely and cause you to become one, while still maintaining your unique identity, as evidenced by the different graphic symbols on each robe. And while the subject matter may be erotic in nature, I personally see that The Kiss is symbolically connected to fulfillment and the transformative power of love.
Given that this is a painting that I see daily, this was the first Master Work that I chose to do for my Master Artist series. And because it is something so special to me, and the corresponding design was more complicated, it did take me the longest. Twelve hours to be exact.
I wanted the necklace to reflect the color and movement depicted in The Kiss, and it certainly could be no other metal than gold. And as with the other pieces in this series, I sought out an artisan made component to focus my design. I was lucky to find that one of my favorite bead artists, Heather Powers of HumbleBeads had actually created a bead inspired by The Kiss. Heather creates the most extraordinary polymer clay creations that defie description. The process that she uses to create must be so painstaking, yet results in the most glorious use of color in distinctive shapes like this cylinder bead. I have been following her work for years since I first saw it in the pages of a magazine, and one day vowed to own one of her stunning beads. Do you see how the swirls on this bead mimic the detail on the woman's dress? I couldn't have asked for a more perfect representation of The Kiss than Heather's magnificent bead.
For the color I focused on Swarovski crystals of all sorts....bicones, faceted rounds, teardrops and briolettes. All in the fabulous array of colors that defines Swarovski.
I wanted the look of solid gold, but that was not to be. I found Itty Bitty Beads with their 24kt gold charlottes, which are eentsy-weentsy, teeny-tiny gold plated seed beads with a facet on one side to provide a little sparkle. What I didn't know, since I never use seed beads for anything other than an accent, is the higher the number the smaller the bead. So I ordered the 15/0.....and discovered that I needed extra light sources and a pair of drugstore reader glasses in order to work with them! (And I learned that next time I will order a larger size bead!)
I wanted to reflect the opulence of Klimt's The Kiss through this piece as well as the connection between the two lovers wrapped together. I envisioned this piece as a lariat that could be worn long or doubled, and I have found that the large focal bead can actually be worn two different ways. People have commented that it looks like a scarf all draped around the neckline. This necklace construction did take me over 12 hours to complete, but I think it was so worth it in the end. Even if I have to start wearing glasses because of it...
"Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist which alone is significant - they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognise what I am and what I want."
So, if all art is a self-portrait of the artist who created it, what does this work say about me?
And what does your work say about you....whether you create in jewelry, or painting, or sewing, or baking, or even our children, our greatest works of art?
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Enjoy the day!