22 December 2011


When I first saw Michale Schuyt's photograph of the Jantar Mantar, a celestial observatory built at Jaipur, India in the 18th century, I was reminded of Georgia O'Keefe's Ladder To The Moon.  With its seemingly random placement of stone stairways  the observatory looked like a collection of movable gateways waiting for the planes to land.  It looked surreal, rather than what it was, the embodiment of scientifically calculated star-watching posts.   In fact, stairways to the stars

When Karl Marx wrote "everything that is solid melts into air"  he wasn't thinking  about stairs but he could have been.  A stairway is a structure built to solve the problem of ascending and descending in space, something the human body is not well equipped to do.  I think of Marcel Duchamp's scandalous 1913 painting Nude Descending A Staircase and then its 1952 recreation by the photographer Eliot Elisofon.  Once you get past the initial recognition of the joke, you notice how awkward the real moving person appears.

In terms of physics, a staircase is a lever or a treadmill. that multiplies energy.   While Superman can leap tall buildings in a single leap, the rest of us can only reach such heights with a sustained expenditure of energy.  The aunt of Frenchman Jacques-Henri Lartigue seems to have mastered the "leap" decades before Superman.

Oskar Schlemmer's Bauhaus Stairway  displays the co-ordinate geometry of Descartes in action.  Just as the mathematics of multiple variables is encapsulated in Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola's design  of a stairway with a curvilinear sluice way running down its center. at Villa Lante in Bagnaia.  The effortless cascading water is a contrast with the energy required to walk up the stairs. 

When the gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Kohler wanted to measure the intelligence of chimpanzees during World War I, he built a staircase.  Then he placed a bunch of bananas at the top and waited to see what the chimps would do.  

According to Aristotle, the stairway represented the divine order of the universe.  In their metaphysical ambition to link heaven and earth, the early Mesopotamians melded the stairway and the spiral when they created their legendary ziggurat. The  double helix staircase at Chateau de Chambord,  its design attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, is a puzzle ( how can you see another person on the stairs but not meet them face to face?).

Clerics and all manner of royal personages have deployed stairways in  grandiose ceremonies and  buildings.  The same impulse appears in modern popular songs with such titles as Stairway To The Stars, Stairway To Paradise, and Stairway To Heaven.   Aspects of worship or pilgrimage are often associated with climbing, as in a Jacob's Ladder.

A stairway implies the magic and mystery of the transitory,  the idea of ascending toward the invisible with all its attendant symbolism.  A spiral or helix stairway could be energy frozen in time and space, like freezing water.  The seven white stairs and the seven millstones of Sevres combine layers of symbolism in marmoreal tranquility.
A neglected stairway is a melancholy sight, its disrepair suggesting better times have gone by.  Moss sets into the cracks as ivy curls around the trees in Valenciennes's  watercolor.  Even the light seems to be in retreat.

A century after Valenicennes, a grand staircase at Parc de Sceaux near Paris, as photographed by the recent immigrant Andre Kertesz, is the image of desertion.  No footsteps have disturbed the wind-blown leaves from their resting places, no broom or rake has tidied them.  A stairway, and a grand one at that, it commands respect for human ingenuity as it reminds us of the flux at the heart of existence.

1. Georgia O'Keeffe - Ladder To The Moon, 1958, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.
2. Eliot Elisofon - time-lapse photograph of Marcel Duchamp descending a staircase - NYC, 1952, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
3. Jacques-Henri Lartigue - My Aunt, 1906, Association des Amis de J.-H. Lartigue, Paris.
4. Oskar Schlemmer - Bauhaus Stiarway, 1932,  Museum of Modern Art, NYC.
5.  Carlo Ponti -  Palazzo Contarini della Scala, c. 1850s, National Galleries of Scotland.
6. Kokkei Shinbun Sha, publisher - Worshipers Going To the Oku No In From Ehagati Sekai, 1907, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
7. Bernard de Jongghe - The Seven White Stairs And The Seven Millstones, 1990, Cite de la ceramique, Sevres.
8. Pierre Henri de Valenciennes (1750-1819) -   A Cobblestone Stairway Covered With Moss, undated, Louvre Museum, Paris.
9. Andre Kertesz -  Le parc de  Sceaux in Autumn, 1926, Mediatheque, Paris.

17 November 2011

Wanda Wulz And Trieste

Surrealism is a male domain, or so men say, and the outright misogyny  of many of its well known images obscures the surrealist woman.  Hidden in plain sight, with a nod to the rapidly unfolding science of the mind.  Even so, one image and one name keeps popping up:  catwoman, a/ak/a Wanda Wulz.  This is the tale of  my search for the woman behind  Cat Woman and where it has taken me.

For more than a century the Wulz family ran the preeminent photography studio in Trieste.  Founded in 1860 by Giuseppe Wulz who specialized in documentary  images, Fotografia Wulz became known for its portraiture under his son Carlo (1874-1928).  Carlo had two daughters, Marion and Wanda (1903-1984), both  free spirits with cameras.

If  strange convergences and unbidden messages from the subconscious are elements of surrealism then the Wulz family, Wanda particularly, were early and exuberant practitioners.  Even their father must have found some playful sense lacking in  his portraits of the bourgeoisie. Just look at the infant Wanda in a green-grocer's basket.
Close in age, Marion and Wanda remained  close into adulthood, part of the family business that supported their creative autonomy.  They would have been hard pressed to find another setting so congenial.   Although individuals took these pictures it must surely be more accurate to call them collaborations.  From Marion we have images of Wanda as an aviator and as a one-woman jazz band.

The Wulz studio became a meeting place for artists and writers of Trieste in the 1920s, drawn no doubt by the two fiercely talented and attractive Wulz sisters.  The writer Italo Svevo was one, along with young painters including Giuseppe Garzolini, Alfredo Tominz, Umberto Verduta, and their wealthy neighbor Piero Fragiacomo.
There was another member of the Wulz family - Pippo-the-cat.  Often  Marion's subject,  he  was Wanda's cat.     Looking at Wanda's self-portrait and The Cat Without Me and then at Cat-woman we find no sentimental mimicking of personalities between pet and person, but a simpatico of claws. 

"The last breath of civilization expires on this coast where barbarism starts," wrote the French diplomat Chateaubriand, not very diplomatically, in 1806.  Posted to Trieste, the great diplomat was not pleased to be so far from  Paris.  
Exactly one hundred years later when the Irish writer James Joyce came to teach at the Berlitz School of Languages, he eked out time to write A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  NeverthelessJoyce considered his fourteen years in Trieste a time of misery, averring that its isolation ate his liver. While there he also tutored a talented local writer, Italo Svevo.  There are those who believe this was the best thing Joyce ever did for literature. 

But there were others who came to stay.   Dante wrote parts of The Divine Comedy there and six centuries later the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke composed his Duino Elegies (1922) during visits to Castle Duino.  Originally a Roman watchtower, then expanded in medieval times, the castle belonged to Rilke’s friend Princess Marie von Thurm-und-Taxis Hohenlohe.  Local lore claims that Rilke was inspired by disembodied voices he heard calling to him as he walked the windy cliffs overlooking the city.  And no less tortured a soul than the painter Egon Schiele made frequent stays in Trieste to escape the claustrophobia he felt in Vienna..

Trieste first appears in the pages when of history when the Romans annexed it.  During the heyday of their empire, the nearby Venetians raided Trieste regularly, too, causing the beleaguered city to seek protection from the Hapsburgs.  Yet when Garibaldi's newly united Italy stopped a few miles short of  the city, its citizens were seized with a melancholy strain of nationalism, known as irredentism.  United by a secret deal among the Allies following World War I, the people of Trieste provided a safe haven to Jewish refugees from throughout Europe during the 1930s.  Trieste has long been a favorite place of exile for deposed royalty.  

Connected to the rest of Italy by a narrow strip land along the Adriatic coast, Trieste is closer in spirit to its Balkan neighbors than to the Mediterranean world.  Further isolated by the Alps hemming it in on the north and subjected to dry winds sweeping down off the escarpment, Trieste is often covered with a layer of dust, like furniture left in an untended room.  With its mixture of Italian, Slavic, and Germanic influences, Trieste could be both cosmopolitan and backward. 

Multiple personalities are grist for psychiatry and Trieste adopted psychoanalysis with the zeal of a convert, notwithstanding Sigmund Freud's professional failure there as a young man.  In Silvia Bonucci's novel  A Voice In Time (2005)  the emotional claustrophobia  of the period 1900-1940 is dramatized through the decline of the Levi family.  Closer in spirit  and in time to Fotografia Wulz is Italo Svevo's Confessions of Zeno (1923), the diary of the repetitive compulsions of an old man, written down at the urging of his psychiatrist.  Like Zeno Cosini, with his mistresses and his inability to quit smoking, Trieste may appear outwardly unappealing but is also lovable.

For further reading: La Trieste dei Wulz: 1860-1980 by P. Costantini, et al, Fratelli Alinari, Firenze.
Images: unless otherwise noted, all images are from the collection of the Alinari Archives, Museum of Photography, Florence.
1. Wanda Wulz - Cat Woman, 1932.
2. Wanda Wulz - Self-Portrait, c.1932.
3. Wanda Wulz - The Cat Without Me, 1932.
4. Carlo Wulz - title attributed: Baby Wanda In A Basket, c. 1904.
5. Marion Wulz - Jass-band, 1920.
6. Carlo Wulz - Portrait of Marion, 1927. 
7. Daniel Boudinet - Villa Fragiacomo In Trieste, Mediatehque, Paris.
8. Piero Fragiacomo -  Marina con barcho, Galleria Tommaso Marcato, Milan.
9. Egon Schiele - The Harbor at Trieste, 1907, Neue Galerie Am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz.
10. Ugi Fiumani - The Golden Hour, c. 1900-1930, Museo Revoltella, Trieste.
11.. Wanda Wulz - Three Hats, 1935.

05 November 2011

Face To Face

"...viewing a human face sets off a unique reaction in the human brain. This chemical reaction, not unlike addiction, occurs when we see a face or expression that pleases us, giving us a feeling of well-being. From infancy through old age, we are responsive to human features, sometimes with ambivalence, but always with meaning. " - anonymous collector

A.C., as I think of him (and his wife) are the anonymous benefactors who made possible a jewel-like  exhibition of portraits of all sorts at the Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell University.  A small gallery suited the fifteen works, lending an intimacy to the experience even when, as is probably the case with a first century bust of Ptolemy of Mauretania, the intention was ceremonial.   Works of human revelation and contemplation, rather than formality and each one intended for the attentive viewer.

Four paintings by the German artist Max  Beckmann (1884-1950) are the centerpiece of the exhibition and suggest the qualities the collectors look for . A contemplative image of the artist's second wife Quappi, one of his friend the Alsatian engraver Sabine Hackenscmidt, and the two reproduced here.  A fiercely thoughtful gaze aimed straight at the viewer belies the height of his successful career, and hints  at the middle-aged Beckmann's attempt to understand the mystical aspects of life.  The Oyster-Eaters provides a challenge of another sort.  Quappi Beckmann lifts the oyster to her lips as Sabine Hackenschmidt looks on, eyebrow arched enigmatically.  A white-jacketed waiter stands behind.  What is last-noticed is an ominous gray face looming in the background that seems to represent all that came after the pinnacle of 1926 for these people.  The Nazis removed Beckmann from teaching and his works from museums, only to abuse them in displays of "Degenerate Art."   Years of living in poverty in Amsterdam efr the Beckmanns ended only when World War II ended.

This version of Incense by Belgian artist Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921)  was made ss a present for  his niece Gilberte Freson on the occasion of  her marriage in 1917.  The better known version  from 1898, which is at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris .  A more intimate and personal vision, a close-up rendered against a neutral background, the priestess seems younger and more approachable - fitting for a wedding gift.

Balthus (1908-2001) often created images of young girls that are erotically charged.  Not so his Portrait of Rosabianca Skira, daughter of the renowned art published Albert Skira.  Balthus, the son of a Russian Jew,  fled the Nazi occupation of France during World War II for neutral Switzerland.  There Skira gave him employment on his new magazine Labyrinth.  The border painted around  the picture suggests a window sill, the  girl's arm  resting there.  She looks toward her future, which neither of us can see, with apparent calm, or perhaps the privacy of adolescence.

As with Balthus, so with Egon Schiele (1890-1918), it is the expressive faces that have joined this collection: Schiele's patron Karl Otten, Chief Inspector Benesh, and his frequent model Poldi, absorbed in thought.  Only in his clenched Self-Portrait does Schiele express the torment that we think of when we think of his work.  The arms, held tightly to his sides, are as expressive of emotion as the sound we imagine we hear coming from his mouth.

Face to Face, Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY. , August 6 - October 30, 2011.
1. Max Beckmann - Self-portrait, 1926
2. Max Beckmann - The Oyster Eaters, 1943.
3. Fernand Khnopff - Incense, 1917. 
4. Balthus - Portrait of Rosabianca Skira, 1949.
5. Egon Schiele - Poldi, 1914
6. Egon Schiele - Self-portrait, 1910.

18 October 2011

California Landscapeland

Landscape,  the aesthetic version of the natural world, has a long history in art, dating back to the Renaissance, when it began to emerge from the background of  religious subjects.  It fell out of favor with early 20th century  Modernists.  Only recently, exhibitions devoted to the landscapes of Gustav Klimt, who died in 1918, have come as a revelation.  It was left to photographers and the makers of prints, flying under the radar.  They knew what Virgil had written in The Golden Age Returns from the fourth Eclogue:

"...faint traces of our former wickedness will linger on, to make us venture on the seas in ships, build walls around our cities, and plow the soil."

California, growing exponentially at the same time, was a veritable landscapeland, with Sequoia forests and barren depths of the aptly named Death Valley.   Pedro de Lemos, (1882-1954)  director of the Stanford Museum, and William Rice, (1873 – 1963) s an early  teacher of woodcut techniques, created  atmospheric landscapes in  color woodcuts

Unhampered by the limelight, woodblock printers tried on borrowed styles from Japan and Mexico in their works. The diverse imagery of extremes of topography was united by a shared technique which, in turn,
 inspired several distinctive art movements.   Women gained a powerful and early voice in this medium, as did the labor movement and Latino artists. 
Several  artists went directly to the source and traveled to Japan to study printmaking techniques and aesthetics.  Bertha Lum (1869 – 1954) went so far as to spend her honeymoon studying in Japan.  Helen Hyde (1868 – 1919) grew up in San Francisco but was introduced to Japanese printmaking when she studied in Paris with the collector Felix Regamey.(You'll find both Hyde and Regamey elsewhere on this site.)  Hyde moved to Japan in 1899, later returning to live in Pasadena.

Anders Aldrin (1889-1970) immigrated from Sweden to the American midwest as a young man but found his vocation and his subject in southern California.  Attracted to subjects with romantic names - Echo Park, Silver Lake - he probably appreciated the symbolism that attaches to Zabriskie Point.
Other immigrant artists are more obscure, like Carl Langheim (1872-1941) whose work suggests the influence of by Symbolism and the Nabis.  The Wood could easily be paired something by Charles Lacoste, for instance.

Another transplanted artist, Elizabeth Norton (1887-1985)  moved to San Francisco from Chicago.  An example of a recognizable California urban landscape is her Berkeley stadium (1926). An autumn football game becomes a landscape by virtue of human absence.
The California Labor School in  San Francisco became a center of woodblock printing and, today, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts has a large collection of color woodcuts.
1. William S. Rice - Twilight - East Oakland, 1920s, San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts.
2. William S. Rice - The Adobe House, c. 1920-1935, San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts.
3. William S. Rioce - Eucalyptus Grove, c1920-35, Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco.
4. Pedro de Lemos - Hillside Harvest, C 1919, Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco.
5. Bessie Ella Hazen (1881-1946) - Carmel Cypresses, undated, San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts.
6. Bertha Lum - Point Lobos, 1929< Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
7. Helen Hyde - Church in Cuernavaca, 1912, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
8. Anders Aldrin - Zabriskie Point - Death Valley, undated, San Francisco Museum of Fine Ary.
9. Carl Langheim - The Wood, 1896, San Francisco museum of Fine Art.
10. Elizabeth Norton - U.C. Stadium, 1926,  San Francisco museum of Fine Arts.

26 September 2011

Francophile Manhattan: Helena Rubenstein & The Rockefellers

I never knew my mother's mother; she died years before I was born and so I have never been comfortable referring to Florence Williams as my grandmother.  My mother adored her mother, whose nickname was Billie, and often told stories about her and one of them was the genesis of this article.

During the Depression, when work for builders like my grandfather was nonexistent, Billie removed her wedding ring, took the train into Manhattan from Orange, New Jersey, and got a job as a receptionist at the Helena Rubinstein Salon on Fifth Avenue.  Rubinstein had made her fortune with face creams, being the first to realize that if creams were marketed for day, night, and anti-wrinkle, the customer would buy three times as many  jars.   For years I have searched for pictures of that Salon, and here is one of the reception area  by the esteemed architectural photographer Samuel Gottscho (1875-1971).  

The cosmetics mogul brought her love of all things French with her when she came to New York. To design the salon, Rubinstein chose the Hungarian Ladislas Medgyes who had outfitted her New York apartment with its sensational clear dining suite made out of a new wonder  material called lucite.  Oak and leather stools were designed by Jean-Michel Frank, a rug was inspired by Fernand Leger who also painted the mural for Nelson Rockefeller’s east side townhouse. Presiding over all that luxe was the  flattering portrait of Madame Rubinstein  in a yellow shawl by Marie Laurencin. Also like Rockefeller, Rubinstein dotted her apartment with African sculptures and surrealist paintings.  The rococo settee seen above in the Salon were a frequent Rubinstein accent.

The Rockefellers, father John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his son Nelson, were prominent Francophiles who had the means leave a mark on the city.  Nelson's Fifth Avenue duplex, designed by Jean-Michel Frank, in 1937, was the setting for many events during his long career in the arts and in politics.   (Frank, who was made a refugee by the Nazi occupation of his native France, jumped to his death from a tall New York building in 1941.)  Meanwhile, John D.'s eponymous Rockefeller Center, under construction throughout the 1930s, was an extravagant love letter to all things French that has become, with time, an icon of American architecture. At its center is  Paul Manship's golden Prometheus: "Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends."  Rockefeller's kindred spirit, you could say.

As is often the case with love affairs, one party was more enthusiastic than the other.   The French, their patented mixture of admiration laced with disdain, looked askance at the American skyscraper, finding something savage in this obelisk.  They tried out a variety of metaphors to contain the heady experience of the vertical building, from mountains to cathedrals.  The journalist, Jules Heret, sneered at them as  “maisons geantes,”  redeemed only by the magical aura cast by electricity.  One critic even dismissed Cass Gilbert’s stately Woolworth Building as “banal and ineffective.” I could take this personally as my grandfather and grandmother had to postpone their  wedding until October 16, 1913 so my Norman could finish working on the completion of the Woolworth tower. When the magazine Je sais tout published its first article about the construction of Rockefeller Center in December, 1931, the tone began to shift toward admiration for America’s “composition urbaniste,”

In 1935, Le Corbusier, a man who considered himself the master of le composition urbaniste, visited New York City  with its bouillabaisse of Beaux-Arts and streamlined architecture.  Later he committed his reaction to print in When The Cathedrals Were White (1947):  “In New York, then, I learn to appreciate the Italian Renaissance.”    

1.  Samuel Gottscho -  Helena Rubinstein salon in Manhattan, 1936, Museum of the City of New York.
2. Jean Lurcat - for Maison Mybor, hand-knotted wool rug, ca. 1930, Helen Rubenstein Collection, NYC.
3. unidentified photographer for Life Magazine - Helena Rubinstin in bed designed to her dimensions by Ladislas Medgyes, 1941, Museum of the City of New York. 
4. Fernand Leger - design for fireplace mural for Nelson Rockefeller's New York townhouse, c. 1938, Davidson gallery, NYC.
5. unidentified photographer - Prometheus, designed by Paul Manship at Rockefeller Center Plaza, 1930s, New York Public Library.
6. Le Corbusier - Metamorphosis of a violin, 1922, Pompidou Center, Paris.

13 September 2011

Two Old Maids And A Widow

Imagine this autochrome portrait of Emilie Floge at ten feet tall.  That is what I saw when I entered the second floor salon at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan.    Hanging in front of some half dozen French windows were larger than life transparencies of photographs of the Austrian designer.   As part of the exhibition Wiener Werkstatte Jewelry, they showed Floge wearing necklaces and brooches that were on display, dressed in outfits she designed for her business, Schwestern Floge.  The transparent scarf, designed at the Werkstatte, was an idea borrowed by the French designer Paul Poiret after a visit to Vienna in 1911.

This brooch  from the exhibition, designed by Josef Hoffmann and made of silver and gilt, coral, opal, and lapis lazuli, may have been for sale at the Floge salon in Vienna.  It is exemplary of the mixture of Art Nouveau and Art Deco tendencies popular in the early 20th century and, also, of a problem Viennese designers faced, but never solved. 
An outfit from Schwestern Floge was ten times more expensive than one made by a seamstress and cost  four times more than one purchased at the (then) new department stores.  Even so, the firm was a success, employing up to eighty workers, all of them in back, behind the showrooms. 
"It was Emilie Floge in particular who kept the shop going.  It was due only to her initiative that the firm reached such a height...And then she worked like an artist, like a sculptor, at the dummy." - Herta Wanke, longtime employee.

The stark atmosphere that Hoffmann created for the salon  was stylishly a la japonaise and was an apt background for the bright colors of the clothes, intended to be just as much a provocation to the bourgeois Viennese as the paintings of Les Fauves or Der Blaue Reiter.  Among the customers were Sonia Knips and Friedricke Beer, daughter of the owner of the famous Kaiser Bar.  Like Emilie Floge, both sat for the painter Gustav Klimt.

Schwestern Floge opened its doors in 1904, its proprietors were three sisters: Emilie (31), Helene (34 and a widow) and Pauline (39). The Floge family belonged to Vienna's unemancipated  lower middle class. and, left fatherless in 1897, needed to earn their way. You could say the business began when the sisters were commissioned to design outfits in the new 'reform' style for a cooking demonstration.  Fin-de-siecle Vienna was more recepetive to reforms in women's dress than in political emancipation.  Freeing their bodies from restrictive corsets proved easier than throwing off the inconsistencies in sexual relationships or financial dependence on men.  Also, Viennese society saw reform dress as a way to declare fashion independence from Paris.
Emilie Floge (1874-1962) was known for her nervous disposition and, in  later years,she was considered aloof.  A sense of responsibility toward her sisters must have weighed on the freshness and unpretentiousness that her friends admired.  She became an early, enthusiastic driver,and a familiar sight in her yellow sports car.  Twice a year, she traveled to Paris to check out the competition and to buy her fabrics.

This portrait of Emilie Floge, made by Gustav Klimt in 1902, as Floge was preparing to open her great business venture is, for most of us, our introduction to this remarkable woman.  I found my uneasiness underlined by her contemporary, Hans Koeck: "The material consciously fits tight around the neck of the woman wearing the dress, as if to throttle her, as though the artist were aiming at the erotic effect of strangulation as in his 1902 portrait of Emilie Floge. Traces of his sublime sadistic imagination can be found on all occaions where the wearer's neck and breast are enclosed by an armour of fabric."

The nature of the relationship between Floge and Klimt has always been a delicious topic for speculation.  Throughout his adult life Klimt shared a flat with his mother and his sisters, Klara and Hermoine.  One doubts that he slept there overmuch as there three documented illegitimate children and a total of fourteen made claims on his estate (Emilie was his executor) after his death in 1918. 

Klimt was an unapologetic exploiter of sexual inequality, an old Adam.  Floge was regarded as an old maid in her day, but she was also a person with financial responsibilities who endeavored to use her talents to become a new Eve.  They had a very close relationship that was complicated by the bizarre mores of their time.  In his book Sex And Character (1903), the young philosopher Otto Weininger wrote: “…for the more highly differentiated, the discriminating man, the girl he desires and the girl he could only love and never desire, certainly have quite different dispositions, they are two quite different beings.”  Weininger was 23 when he wrote these words; he committed suicide soon after.

Kathe Frolich, fiancee of the dramatist Franz Grillparzer, knew both of them, and wrote:   “Klimt’s elemental force made a powerful impression on people and on women in particular and his appearance seems to breathe a strong smell of earth.  But he too reveals that crack which paralyses unreserved commitment to life; for many years he was bound to a woman in very close friendship, and he too was unable to devote himself completely to her.  A certain erotic neurasthenia comes through in his most sensitively expressed drawings and one surely does not go wrong is ascribing these to his most painful experiences.”
Epilogue to a career:  The Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938 brought an end to Schwestern Floge and the sisters retired to Ungarsgasse 39.  Their loyal employee Herta Wanke remembered the sadness of that time: “… the furnishings were worth hardly anything.  No-one was interested in Jugendstil and,, also, there was such a surplus of furniture in the Dorotheum ( a municipal pawn-broking establishment founded by Emperor Joseph II as a social service for the lower classes).”

Note:  In 1981, the estate of Emilie Floge was archived in Vienna.   New information about her work was revealed.
1. Friedrich Walker - Emile Floge with a green scarf, c. 1910, Neue Galerie, NYC.
2. Josef Hoffmann - brooch, 1908, Neue Galerie, NYC.
3. Josef Hoffmann - design for showroom - Schwestern Floge, c. 1902, Estate of Emilie Floge, Vienna. 
4. unidentified photographer - reception area at  Schwestern Floge,  c.1905, Estate of Emilie Floge, Vienna.
5 Friedrich Walker - Emilie Floge at Attersee, 1910, courtesy Neue Galerie, NYC.
6. Dora Kalmus (Madame d'Ora) - Emilie Floge, 1909, Osterreisches National Bibliothek, Vienna.
7. Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Emilie Floge, 1902, Vienna State Museum.
8. Friedrich Walker - Gustav Klimt & Emilie Floge in a boat on Lake Attersee, 1910, Vienna State Museum..
9. Moritz Nahr - Emilie Floge, 1905, Vienna State Museum.
10. Gusatv Klimt - Emilie Floge in a Concert Dress, 1906, Vienna State Museum.