Klimt's Autonomous Erotic Nude Drawings (1913–17)

Gustav Klimt (1917) by Moriz NährAustrian National Library

Klimt's representations of erotic ecstasy are among the most exhilarating results of his drawing activity, which could only be achieved through this medium.

Reclining Nude with Leg Raised (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

This portrayal of a masturbating woman from around 1913 was a balancing act for Klimt. He was tied between reproducing what he immediately observed in terms of sensuality, and endeavoring to subject the pose and intimate action of the model to a higher spatial order.

The richly textured drapes form a prominent contrast with her brightly lit, naked body parts. Klimt was greatly inspired by erotic Japanese woodblock printing when creating these drawings.

Reclining Nude (c. 1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt captured a naked reclining model in red pencil around 1913. With alternating light and vigorous contours, he emphasizes the sensual characteristics of her body.

Klimt accentuated the closed eye the most, emphasizing the faraway state of the supine figure.

Within the balanced articulation of the plane, the "participation" of the empty fields is still an essential factor, including the striking triangular view through beneath the bent knee.

Reclining Nude (1914-1915) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The 1914/15 study of a reclining semi-nude is characterized by free, richly differentiated lines. The recumbent figure extends across the breadth of the paper in a wide arch.

The abstract, densely compressed lines of her gathered-up clothing run extremely freely and vibrantly, standing out prominently from her resting hand.

Her naked stomach and thighs loom from the bustle of lines like a bright island.

The contours of her legs are dynamically curved. Their foreshortening increases the tension between space and plane.

As if carried by waves, the lying figure seems to float away outside the constraints of time and space.

Reclining Woman, Seen from Behind (1916-1917) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

An outstanding example of the tension between outer calmness and inner agitation is the study of the back of a clothed, reclining figure, drawn in 1916/17. In its horizontal anchoring, this figure fills the entire width, from the tip of her shoes to the top of her hair.

The violently moving abstract lines of the fabric pattern and folds are a particular focal point.

The powerful repeated contour of her lower shoulder creates the visual focus as it emphatically separates her light skin from her dark, tousled hair. The slightly ducked position of her head reinforces the impression of a self-absorbed figure as seen from behind, whose isolation on the sheet is monumental.

Reclining Nude (1916-1917) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In terms of the range of moods these reclining model studies express, erotic ecstasy stands out the most.

The 1916/17 drawing of a model pleasuring herself and resting on a sloping support seems to consist of pure arousal.

The figure—appearing as if electricity runs through her veins—has unmistakable links to Expressionism.

Credits: Story

The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna

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