arms, head, torso and upper legs of a nude figure, in profile from PR, with arms outstretched and head down, forming an L shape

Male Figure with Outstretched Arms, Study for the Beethoven Frieze, c.1902

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From sketches such as this come major masterpieces. When the rebellious group of artists known as the Vienna Secession organized an exhibition honoring Beethoven, Gustav Klimt was responsible for decorating the large introductory room. The project would become his greatest work, the Beethoven Frieze, an expansive wall painting interpreting the final, choral movement of the composer’s Ninth Symphony. The frieze was arranged as a series of figure groupings. “The Suffering of Weak Humanity” includes a standing woman and a kneeling couple with outstretched arms, all shown in profile. The MIA drawing records Klimt’s first thoughts for the male figure. Klimt made short horizontal strokes through areas that he wanted to reconsider and went on to test other ideas for the man’s bearing. He eventually made him kneel in a more rigidly vertical position and introduced the kneeling woman, who would obscure the man’s back and shoulder. By slightly raising the man’s bowed head, easing the gesture of his hands, and eliminating the touches of color, Klimt reduced the emotional intensity, reserving it for later elements of the frieze.

Details
Title
Male Figure with Outstretched Arms, Study for the Beethoven Frieze
Artist Life
1862 - 1918
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2012.58.74
Provenance
[Le Bocage Vert Giuliano Ceseri, Lafayette, Louisiana, until 2001; sold September 8 for $2,000, to Moir]; Alfred Moir, Santa Barbara (2001-d. 2010; bequeathed to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Not listed in Alice Strobl, "Gustav Klimt: Die Zeichnungen"
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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arms, head, torso and upper legs of a nude figure, in profile from PR, with arms outstretched and head down, forming an L shape