A key turning point in Klimt’s career seems to have come from his trips to Venice and Ravenna, which introduced him to the wonders of mosaic, sparking an interest in gold and a passion for Byzantine art.
His frieze at the Stoclet Palace in Brussels contained a mixture of these influences (as well as Chinese, Egyptian and Buddhist art). Semi-precious stone, enamel, faience, pearl and gold embellish the white marble walls and a dancing woman is garlanded with gold bracelets. The figure in Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is similarly cloaked in gold and byzantine patterns.
The Kiss (perhaps Klimt’s masterpiece) marked the high-point of his interest in gold. He applied a mixture of oil paint and gold leaf to a painting dominated by mosaic and spiral patterns, round and oval motifs, halo-like circles, and decorative tendrils. Perhaps more than anyone, he was catching the opulence and sensuousness of the fin-de-siecle.
It is the signatures of this ‘golden phase’ that have lent themselves perfectly to the ceramic process. Craig Bragdy’s designers have studied the rich detail of Klimt’s work – the evocative swirls, linear constructs, the decadent colouring – which is a wonderful harmony of eastern and western art traditions.
The resulting handmade ceramics, whether in the form of a mural or the floor of a swimming pool, are truly stunning – and a fitting tribute to a past master.