Author Archives: Nausikaä El-Mecky

About Nausikaä El-Mecky

Nausikaä El-Mecky got her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013. She is specialising in attacks on art from Antiquity until today. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Heidelberg School of Education and will start her tenure-track position as Distinguished Researcher in Art History and Visual Culture at Pompeu Fabra University’s Humanities Department in Barcelona in Autumn 2018. She has contributed, amongst others, to Apollo, Marginalia | The Los Angeles Review of Books and Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society.

A Very Nuanced Scandal

The following article will explore “one of the greatest scandals in art circles in Vienna around 1900,” and a defining experience for a dominant figure in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: the affair around Gustav Klimt’s rejected University Paintings (1900–1905). Numerous authors have applied the trope of the misunderstood genius to Klimt, due to this affair. In this contribution, I will demonstrate that this narrative mythologises and distorts a much more complex and nuanced debate. I argue that the University Paintings affair was not a clash between the prudes of the ‘Establishment’ and a heroic, unflinching artist and his unusually open-minded supporters. Rather, the scandal revolves around much more nuanced – and a lot less sensationalist – questions about the freedom and constraints of applied works of art. Continue reading

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