Google Arts & Culture launched “Klimt vs. Klimt – The Man of Contradictions” on October 7, 2021. The project offers a comprehensive online hub about Klimt’s art, life and legacy, bringing light to a man of contradictions. Curated by leading Klimt expert Dr. Franz Smola, the comprehensive retrospective brings together over 30 partners and institutions from 10+ countries. Through 120+ curated online exhibits they give unprecedented online access to over 700 assets, such as paintings, drawings, letters or illustrations many of which have been digitized for the first time.
The exhibition features an immersive Augmented Reality Pocket Gallery, which digitally organizes 63 of Klimt’s masterworks under a single roof. Audiences can virtually walk the halls of the gallery space at scale and zoom in on the paintings’ fine ornamentation and pattern, characteristic of Klimt’s practice, made possible by the digitization of his iconic artworks in ultra-high resolution.
In support of bringing Klimt’s work to life, Google Arts & Culture also employed machine learning to digitally reconstruct Klimt’s long-lost “Faculty Paintings” which were destroyed by fire in 1945. Pulling from archival data and scholarly research, this AI technology recolored images of the works, documented only in black and white photographs, revealing a rich and saturated color palette—a find surprising to even Klimt scholars.
“The result for me was surprising because we were able to color it even in the places where we had no knowledge, with machine learning we have good assumptions that Klimt used certain colors,” Dr. Franz Smola, curator at the Belvedere Museum, said.
Following years of archival research, the app also features over 100 thematic tours comprised of unfinished sketches, videos, and digitized ephemera, many of which are available online for the first time. Brazenly erotic, politically charged, and artistically revolutionary, “Klimt and the Erotic” explores the artists admiration for women, and a deep dive into “Klimt’s Golden Phase”, the unmistakable hallmark that earned him a permanent place in art history.
In addition, the project provides an intimate look into the life of the artist, bringing to light the complexities of Klimt’s art, life, and legacy. The Streetview feature provides 360° of notable landmarks and locations associated with the artist, including 22 museums, the ceiling of the Burgtheater with Klimt’s only known self-portrait in existence, and an inside-look into Klimt’s last studio.
Along with the Belvedere Museum, the exhibition was supported by 30+ renowned partners spanning the globe, including US-based institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie New York, National Gallery of Art, Harvard Art Museums, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, among others.
“Klimt vs. Klimt – The Man of Contradictions” is the latest initiative by Google Arts & Culture to make arts and culture accessible and inspire and educate populations through innovative technologies. The exhibition joins previous projects such as the viral Art Selfie and the virtual Frida Kahlo exhibition, ‘Faces of Frida’.
“Klimt vs. Klimt – The Man of Contradictions” is available for free on Google Arts & Culture’s app on the web, and on iOS and Android. To access the Pocket Gallery feature, the latest version of the Google Arts & Culture app and a device that supports ARCore (Android) or ARKit (iOS) is required.
ABOUT GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE
The free Google Arts & Culture app puts the treasures, stories, and knowledge of over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries at your fingertips. Initiated in 2011 with the initiative to make arts and culture more accessible, Google Arts & Culture has since engaged millions of people to experience art through innovative technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Street View, and AI. Google Arts & Culture additionally serves as a partner to museums and cultural institutions from all over the world, together working on developing and applying technologies that help to preserve and share culture in new ways.
ABOUT GUSTAV KLIMT
Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter, best known for his glittering portraits of upper-class women. Emphasized by his most known work, The Kiss (Lovers) (1907–1908), Klimt’s ability to capture the Brazenly erotic, politically charged, and devotion to artistic expression made Klimt a leading figure of the Viennese avant-garde and continues to inspire and awe audiences to this day.