Embracing Lovers – Beethoven Frieze
1901-2 by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life in Vienna 1900, Tate Liverpool; permanently at Albertina, Vienna
This drawing is wonderful in showing us Klimt’s lovers – what he is known for – truly naked. His figures are usually clothed in colours, textures and shapes; swaddled in glittering attire that follows the contours of their embrace. Here they are unwrapped to a matter of lines; we are allowed to admire the true mastery of Klimt’s ability to capture the tenderness of human contact. Undistracted by colour the figures’ limbs are perfectly formed, arms curling and reaching intimately. Simple sketched curves outline their bodies, which, despite their simplicity, are completely evocative; we have the feeling of mass, weight and strength from the linear construction of the man’s back. Without paint, without Klimt’s usual decoration, we may appreciate his lovers quietly, engrossed, as they are with each other.