This painting is about Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s famous 9th symphony and it’s placed in the Vienna Secession building. It was painted during 1902, with the objective of being exhibited at the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition. This painting was constructed exclusively for the show and it was made directly on the walls with light materials. Despite being made only for the show, the painting ended up being preserved and was brought back to public exhibition in the year of 1986. Because of its fame and importance, it became the motif of a couple of famous collector’s coins. The 9th symphony was performed during the opening of the event.
Hymn to Joy is the last of the three-piece narrative frieze, and it’s one of the most prominent elements, both for the theme and the flashing golden color that covers the background of the piece. The narrative of the frieze guides the spectator up to the paradisiac happy ending.
On the golden painting, a couple embraces in a passionate kiss. The woman is practically entirely covered by the man’s muscled naked body. Her pale arms are wrapped around his neck. We see only parts of her and some of her hair falling over the shoulders.
They are framed by a gate filled in with a brown pattern, supporting the narrative of achieving paradise or entering heaven. The gates are painted on an interesting gradient pattern that gets lighter and more similar to the color of the background as it approaches the top border. The gates are cropped by some Art Nouveau style swirls and are beautifully framed by these organic shapes. On top of the doors, there are two detailed circles with faces. The circle on the left has its eyes open and a happy expression, while the circle on the right has its eyes shut and a very neutral expression, creating an idea of paradox and contrast. The circles are connected to the gate winds through a green trail.
From the top of their heads, a path of curves and swirls come out. Stripes of curvy dark brown lines form a circular shape, and this shape is filled with small golden spirals. An interesting detail of this piece is that the feet of the couple are entangled together by a thin dark line, as it had been sketched with a pencil, standing out from the style and media of the rest of the painting.
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