unfinished work :: gustav klimt

The Huffington Post | By Katherine Brooks | Posted: 01/27/2015

Some of the world’s most famous artworks are nomadic. They travel from one institution to another, borrowed and lent across museums so that art admirers in continents too far to touch can view them. They are gently packaged and shipped overseas, ushered into temporary homes by art handlers who take their jobs very seriously. (And sometimes not so seriously.) It’s an arduous ordeal, one not without its hiccups, but essential nonetheless.

For example, without these kinds of arrangements, the fine people of Boston wouldn’t be able to feast their eyes on the unfinished work of “The Kiss” painter, Gustav Klimt. And that would be a shame.

Adam and Eve, Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862–1918), 1917-1918, Oil on canvas *Belvedere, Vienna * © Belvedere, Vienna *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Adam and Eve, Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862–1918), 1917-1918, Oil on canvas *Belvedere, Vienna * © Belvedere, Vienna *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The aforementioned unfinished work is an early 20th century painting depicting the biblical figures Adam and Eve. It has traveled from the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, Austria all the way to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston as a part of the latter’s “Visiting Masterpieces” series this month. Klimt was unable to finish the work before his death in 1918, hence the handless Eve standing in front of an unruffled Adam. Curators speculate that the empty space was meant to reveal an apple, the signature fruit of religious history’s first woman rabble-rouser.

Klimt, the Austrian artist known for his ability to eroticize the female body with a flick of his gilded brush, is of course heralded for his work on the famous painting, “The Kiss (Lovers).” Klimt’s rendering of Adam and Eve reveals a shadow of the artist’s mosaic-like technique, this time profiling a completely nude female body, her eyes staring forth from the frame as she obscures the likely equally nude body of her counterpart. At the MFA, the piece will be shown next to Oskar Kokoschka’s 1913 masterpiece, “Two Nudes (Lovers),” yet another portrait of the Abrahamic sinners.

{featured image: The Kiss, 1907-1908. Found in the collection of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna. [Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images]}

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