A unique exhibition exclusively exhibits the early works of one of the most famous artists of all time, and for the first time, the public are also able to see up close his paintings made for Rijeka’s theatre as well as many other works.

A unique exhibition on three floors of the City Museum of Rijeka which features the early works of Gustav Klimt and members of his group, his brother Ernest Klimt and friend Franz Matsch. For the first time, the public are also able to see up close the paintings made for Rijeka’s theatre and, through many other displayed works, to find out why Klimt became one of the most famous artists of all time.

With this exhibition the early, neglected, and as such also publically unknown opus of this great European painter, who began his career working with his brother Ernst Klimt and his school friend, Franz Matsch, with whom he founded an art group. From 1884-1885 the group was employed to decorate the auditorium of Rijeka’s theatre. They produced nine paintings of which seven are signed. Each painter signed their own canvas, which was not their custom until then. In this period the differences in their handwriting and stylistic endeavours began to be increasingly clearer, and the Rijeka opus stands out as an indication of what would soon follow. Matsch’s opus would remain within the scope of academic painting and he would be lost in the mass of more or less reliable painters, whilst Gustav Klimt with his radical revolution would become one of the most celebrated painters of all time, who would at the head of a group of artists, lead to the most significant turning point in the recent history of art.

For the first time, the public are able to see up close all nine of the paintings created for Rijeka as well as preparatory drawings and colour studies otherwise scattered in museums, galleries and private collections from New York to Vienna to Bucharest. Thanks to the collaboration with a large number of museums and other institutions, visitors can also view other early works of this trio of painters mostly linked to theatre commissions.

Considering that today Gustav Klimt is still primarily known for his later opus, visitors can also view forty or so of his drawings created at the time of the appearance of Secession until near the end of his life, i.e. until 1918, with the emphasis on women as the main inspiration which characterised his work in every phase.

The exhibition is placed on three floors of the museum, in the atmosphere of a theatre ambience with the use of modern technology such as interactive projections.

All the works borrowed from Austrian and Romanian museums can be viewed from 14th October 2020, and from then until 31st January 2021 the Rijeka opus and multimedia contents are on display.

Working on the set up of the exhibition were: project director Ervin Dubrović (HR), author and project leader Deborah Pustišek Antić (HR) and Klaudio Cetina (HR) as the creative director.