Saturday, September 19, 2015

For Suffrage Day

It's Suffrage Day in NZ but here in Barcelona it's still the day before. I want to mark it with a post related to what I saw in Vienna. Gustav Klimt had a long relationship (no one knows if it was sexual or not, but it seems likely it wasn't) with a remarkable woman, Emilie Louise Flöge.

Emilie and her sister Pauline ran Vienna's leading haute couture salon. They included loose, flowing dresses in the Secession style worn by many women in Klimt's paintings. The one below is of Emilie, and the second photo of her shows her in feminist reform dress.  (Sorry the pictures here are too small, Blogger on iPad won't let me enlarge them - I'll fix it when I get home.). The shop had to close after the Nazis removed most of the sisters' wealthy customers.  The other sister, Helene, was married to Klimt's brother.

The Leopold Museum has a touching display of Klimt's postcards to Emilie over many years. "The Kiss" is said to show her and Klimt - which would explain the woman's apparent reluctance to be kissed at all. 

You can buy Kiss umbrellas, bags, mugs and cushion covers. When the Vienna Museum held a Klimt kitsch contest in 2012, they awarded the prize to a plastic egg that opened to show miniature “Kiss” figures which rotated to the tune of Elvis’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” 

Monday, September 14, 2015

That's history

If Harvey had still been alive, he would have turned 81 today. Here in Vienna I keep thinking of him as I enjoy yet another new experience that he would have loved, from the delightfully enthusiastic concert of Vienna's Greatest Hits last night (think The Merry Widow, etc), complete with excellent singers and ballet dancers, to the free Amaretto my friend Ulrike and I were given just now to end our Italian dinner round the corner.

I think he would have liked seeing Sigmund Freud's house, too. Freud lived at Berggasse19 for 47 years, from 1891 to 1938. This photo of him in his study was taken there jin 1937.

Sometimes history seizes you by the throat.  I put up a post on Facebook recently showing my first coffee and cake in Vienna. I had it at an attractive old place I found near our hotel, Cafe Eiles. Later, wanting a photo of the interior with its faded tapestry banquettes and round marble-topped tables, I looked it up on the Internet. 
           There's been a cafe on this site ever since the building went up in 1840. Cafe Eiles itself dates back to 1901. Eiles means rope. On 23 July 1934, the illegal Nazi party held its last meeting in the cafe before launching the failed putsch against the Austrian government. 
            Less than four years later, on 4 June 1938, Sigmund Freud left his house after he managed to raise (with the help of friends such as Marie Bonaparte) the very large sum of money demanded by the Nazis for letting him, his wife and his daughter Anna leave for refuge in London. His apartment was turned into a crowded holding pen for other prominent Jews. He died less than 16 months later on 23 September 1939, aged 83. Four of his five sisters later died in the concentration camps in 1942.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2015

    Looking ahead to Suffrage Day

    I'll be out of New Zealand for Suffrage Day this year. I'll ask my house-sitting son to mark it with a bunch of white camellias from the garden.
            You can now look up the original suffrage petition online to see if any of your forebears signed it.

    Back in 1993, when the country (very ambivalently and sometimes disgracefully badly marked the centenary of women's suffrage, there was a slew of cartoons, some of them openly misogynist but others wryly commenting on how far equality still had to go. My favourite, by a veteran male cartoonist, showed a harassed looking woman trying to go out the door while her husband whined from his armchair: "So that's it, is it? I have to get my own dinner every flaming suffrage centenary!"