Opening - 20 April 2021 at The Sugar Refinery Palace
Buy tickets - soon
The exhibition of one of the most attractive modern painters, a favourite with both the audience of his time and that of today, reveals him at the City Museum of Rijeka in a dual role we rarely have the opportunity to see him play. As a young painter he is a partaker of a waning epoch, as a mature artist he is the originator of a dramatic turn in art, in which he is one of the most important creators. Large representative canvases by young Gustav Klimt, his brother Ernst and colleague Franz Matsch from the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka have not been widely known so far. Although Klimt created them some twenty years later, his erotic drawings surprisingly complement his early compositions of classical beauty, allegories of music, drama, opera, poetry and dance. Delicate pencil drawings of smaller size which shocked the people of that time, are still making a strong impression today and inducing passion and eroticism. No matter how diverse the female nature and its manifestation were, it was always the main obsession of both the young and the mature Klimt, it was the genuine originator of the world and all creativity – initially of harmony, tranquility and sublime sensibility and later of surging passion and pure carnality. Ecstasy is eventually levelled with eroticism, while emotions are entwined with sensuality.
Teatro Comunale (today's Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc in Rijeka) was built in 1885. Around the same time Gustav Klimt's canvases were brought here, along with works by Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch (members of Künstler-Compagnie). Gustav Klimt's works were meant to embellish the impressive dome of Rijeka's theatre while Vienna had just started to recognize his talent outside the School of Applied Arts which he attended for seven years.
His talent was far beyond artisan’s skill and became a worldwide phenomenon. For the past couple of years, we have been witnessing that some of his most known works made during the secession phase have been sold at high prices and sold at prestigious auctions. Exhibitions are being hosted all around the world in his honour. Each object with Klimt's name or image becomes a well-selling souvenir.
Klimt's exhibition in 1904 presented the so called Faculty Paintings. At that time, art historian Iso Kršnjavi predicted that Klimt is going to be the “artist that the public will never love nor respect”. Not only was he mistaken, but numerous publications, exhibition catalogues, and books that have been published in Klimt's honour prove him wrong. Some of these were popular and accessible to wider audience and some were scientific articles written by prominent art historians. Yet, the highlight has almost always been the “modern” Klimt!
Apart from few art historians, the general public doesn’t seem to know much about his works which have been in Rijeka for more than 130 years. Although several scientific articles were written by prominent art historians, only until the exhibition is displayed where a visitor can see the works up-close and compare it to Klimt’s later works, will one know and recognise Klimt’s talent as such. These works present his art skills that were necessary for the turnover which will happen much later and which ultimately became the reason why he is so important today.

Unknown Klimt Workshop

During 2018 and 2019, the Museum hosted animated film workshops in collaboration with the Association of film enthusiasts AnimatoRi and the Centre of Technical Culture Rijeka. Dozens of participants tried to make an animated film on the subject of Rijeka's theatre paintings. This year’s plan is to continue the collaboration, but also to start a new, different educational and creative workshop which also has a goal to introduce children and young people to the beginnings of the opus of painter Gustav Klimt and to his paintings in Rijeka that are unknown to the domestic and especially foreign audiences. Workshops are going to include making bracelets from wooden spatulas with selected motifs from the exhibition, decorating coasters and boxes using decoupage technique, the artistic experience of the exhibited paintings, and decorating canvas bags with fabric colours. The programs are adapted to all age groups and for each workshop a tour of the exhibition is included with interactive expert guidance.
Prior notice is required for all educational programs. Applications for the workshops are starting in mid-April 2021 at:

Unknown Klimt - from restoration to exhibition

Two years have passed since the paintings by the brothers Klimt and F. Matsch had been dismounted at the Croatian National Theatre to be exhibited at the City Museum of Rijeka. Since that time the paintings have been restored and prepared for the exhibition so that the audience could see and experience them better for the very first time.