Modern Art Monday Presents: Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer II

Adele Bloch Bauer
Photo By Gail

This painting  is one of two formal portraits that Klimt made of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the artists most important patrons.  The wife of the successful industrialist, Bloch-Bauer  was a prominent member of the Vienna’s  cultural elite, serving as a key supporter of the arts and the founder of a salon for artists and writers. Klimt’s  composition, completed when Bloch-Bauer was about 30 years old, emphasizes her social station: her towering figure, in opulent dress,  extends to the vertical limits of the canvas and confronts the viewer head-on from its center.  She poses against a jewel-toned backdrop of nearly abstract pattern blocks that suggest a richly decorated domestic interior.

In 1938,  the Nazi government took possession of this portrait along with other works of art from the Bloch-Bauer family collection (including Adele Bloch-Bauer I, now in the collection of the Neue Gallerie  in New York). In 2006, after years of legal negotiations, the works were returned to the Bloch-Bauer heirs and subsequently sold to other collections. The Museum of Modern Art presents Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) as a generous loan from its current owner.

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