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Posts Tagged ‘The Lady In Gold’

When is a purse a pig?  Can they ever be both at the same time?  Those are questions a reader must avoid to enjoy The Lady In Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer, by Anne-Marie O’Connor.  This is a story that begins in the high culture of Vienna at the end of the twentieth century only to fall to the swinish Austrian appetite for all things Nazi, and the butchery of their own Jewish citizens, to their unrepentant rewriting of their own history as Hitler’s first victims.  We follow the total destruction of Vienna’s Jewish elite including the extended family of Adele Block-Bauer, and then the long fight of survivors to receive the smallest of compensation from the new Austria.  O’Connor’s story ends with the restoration and sale of Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. 

You will not learn much about Gustav Klimt as an artist or The Secession as an artistic movement in Vienna, but you will learn about the social and cultural life of Vienna the Austrians with the help of the Nazis destroyed.  You will learn how the nation, once defeated, sought to retain the artistic treasurers it had gained while dancing with the Nazis.

It is good Austria has the Strauss waltzes and Vienna confectionary so there is something for guests to enjoy.  Perhaps they could bring back the military uniforms of the Hapsburg Empire; now those were uniforms to make you want to dance.  Charles Marlin

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