The Beethoven Frieze was created by Klimt for an exhibition in 1902 and is now permanently installed in the Secession building where it was originally presented in Vienna. This exquisite reconstruction was created using the same techniques as applied by Klimt himself as the original Frieze, a masterpiece of 20th century art, underwent restoration. The Frieze celebrates the unification of all arts – painting, sculpture, architecture and music - and is a prime example of the “Gesamtkunstwerk”, the concept of the total work of art pioneered by Richard Wagner and influential in Vienna around 1900.
The exhibition recreates the sophisticated world of Klimt and his patrons in Vienna around 1900 at the juncture between art, architecture and design, when this intriguing figure was at the epicentre of a cultural awakening sweeping the city. It explores the relationship between Klimt as a leader and founder of the Viennese Secession (founded 1897) and the products and philosophy of the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshop, founded 1903) – a highpoint of 20th century architecture and design. Klimt played a critical role in the Viennese Secession, a progressive group of artists and artisans driven by a desire for innovation and renewal. The work and philosophy of the Secession embraced not only art but architecture, fashion and the decorative objects and furniture of the Wiener Werkstätte, demanding the emancipation of fine and applied art in stunning environments.