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The Twilight of Kakania: The Portrait in Vienna 1900

November 22, 2013 by in Reviews

Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl Klimt.jpg

Litro, November 22, 2013

Bourgeois self-congratulation—so en vogue in government and the City these days—rarely produces inventive or crowd-pleasing art, and especially not when it come with greased facial hair and a century’s coat of fustiness. Generations of English middle class portraits are safely lost in family attics, and some of the gilt-framed vainglory on display in the National Gallery’s new exhibition of Viennese portraiture should have been forgotten too. The most stuffily historical of them—Hans Makart’s sycophantic likenesses of richly-upholstered society women and Gyula Benczúr’s love-struck portrait of a young, smug Empress Sisi, decades after her middle age and a year after her assassination (and never as dewy as Romy Schneider)—are not so much “Facing the Modern” as staring stubbornly backward and plugging their ears to it.

Read more at Litro.

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