Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Artistic voice: Gustav Klimt, 1918, Vienna
Oil on canvas, 100.5 x 90.5 cm

»Gustav Klimt’s was the first death of a key figure in that pivotal year of 1918, representing the end of more than just Vienna’s powerful cultural influence around 1900. Klimt was just 55 when he died. It would not be wrong to blame his death less on the war than on the circumstances that not only promoted his career but above all inhibited it. By the end of his creative output, Klimt was regarded as a supplier of luxury goods, passed over into splendid isolation. The high level of zeal for the art world which had characterized his career had long since dissipated. In 1917, Klimt was once again denied a professorship. It was the fourth occasion this had happened.«

Professor Rainer Metzger, State Academy of Art and Design, Karlsruhe

Following the concept of art in the late 19th century, Gustav Klimt rejected the idea of a self-portrait. Art was to serve only beauty. Ultimately, he began to doubt the critical impulse of the artistic religion of the Art Nouveau style, and, from 1910, changed his aesthetic towards modernism: the gold background disappears from his paintings. On Klimt’s death, there were several unfinished paintings in his studio. Beltracchi provides the addition of a self-portrait for Klimt that reflects the artist and his concept of art. Behind the artist is a reflection of the unfinished “bride”, united with the ferryman Charon in the picture.