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Gustav Klimt Fregio di Beethoven

Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt

Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt. Measuring 34 meters in length, this mural by Gustav Klimt draws its main theme from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Its composition and the story it tells have always inspired artists and poets, but have also sparked numerous controversies.

The Beethoven Frieze was installed in 1902 in the left nave (Hauptraum) of the Palais de la Sécession in Vienna for an exhibition dedicated to the great composer. However, just a year later, after a subsequent exhibition on Gustav Klimt, the frieze was dismantled.

Divided into several parts, precisely seven, and changing hands over the years, the work fell victim to Nazi repression. In fact, it belonged to a well-known Jewish collector family, the Lederers. In 1973, it was purchased by the Austrian government, and in 1968, it returned to its intended location: the Palais de la Sécession. It is now displayed in a dedicated room in the underground floor of the palace.

But what does this magnificent and immense work by Klimt still tell us today?!?

Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt: What It Represents

The frieze is divided into three walls that follow the three episodes of the narrative from left to right: The Longing for Happiness, Hostile Forces, and Ode to Joy. These are three segments of a single love story, that of the Knight Artist in golden armor who must reach his beloved. However, he can only reach her by confronting sirens and gorgons, rivers of men, and floating skulls, but above all, Typhoeus, a creature with wings and a serpent’s tail, ready to metaphorically defend the materiality of life. The Knight will arrive at his beloved without armor to sink into the dominant embrace of Poetry.

The numerous criticisms that this work has aroused since its creation due to the representation of evil in its ugliness are naturally unfounded today, and the work is among the most admired in Vienna.

No aspect of life is so narrow and insignificant as to not offer space for artistic aspirations.

Gustav Klimt

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