The Golden Tarot of Klimt - Artwork by A.A. Atanassov, graphics by Pietro Alligo
Review by Arielle Smith

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

"I am not very good at the spoken or the written word, particularly not if I am supposed to say something about myself or my work." ~ Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

Lo Scarabeo has some much anticipated tarot decks among their new releases, but probably none more anticipated than The Golden Tarot of Klimt. The deck does not disappoint.

With glorious glitz and radiant artwork, The Klimt - artwork by Atanas Atanassov, graphics by Pietro Alligo - is spectacular.

The most popular and well-known of Klimt's work, The Kiss, appears in this deck quite naturally as The Lovers. The Kiss was Klimt's response to Byzantine mosaics in Italy which affected Klimt profoundly. Viewers of The Kiss are also always affected profoundly as the very masculine blocks of the man's coat merge with the flowers and wavy lines of the woman's coat. We see the mystical union of spiritual and erotic love - the merging of the one individual with the cosmos - and we feel the metaphysical yearning to be THAT woman, THAT man once again reunited with perfection.

While Klimt's work is now recognized for its passion and beauty, in his own time, Klimt's reputation was basically that of a "dirty old man". He often worked in a loose burnoose with nothing underneath. His studio was usually full of semi-nude models. Although shy and quiet, Klimt had no problem offending the somewhat puritanical society of his time with his erotic, earthy portrayal of women. Bare breasts and naked thigh aside, even the expressions of Klimt's women are sensual.

In The Golden Tarot of Klimt, Klimt's Danae is the Moon card. Although imprisoned, Danae was visited by Zeus in the form of a stream of gold pouring between her legs. impregnating her. Klimt's Danae is a voluptuous, enigmatic woman who tantalizes, tempts and captivates us, giving full reign to the imagination and capturing all of the moon's own mystery.

Not all of Klimt's work is beautiful or sensual. The Tower card shows the gaunt, hollowed bodies from Procession of the Dead - not recognizable as male or female, not evil, but simply the destruction of the physical in exchange for the spiritual.

The minors and court cards are every bit as incredible as the majors. Detailed, lush, often erotic and full of passion, life and mystery. The only card in the deck without human presence is the Ten of Pentacles. Based on Avenue of Trees in the Park at Schloss Kammer, this work shows Van Gogh's influence on Klimt. We see the path, lined on both sides with very Van Gogh-like trees forming a canopy over the path. The path leads to a partially hidden, brightly colored castle. We don't need to see any more to know that we desire to go down this path where we will find contentment, security and happiness.

Klimt's Longing for Happiness is a natural for the Knight of Swords who valiantly goes forth in search of his ideals. No tarnished armor here, this knight is ready to overcome all difficulties with perseverance and passion. His very long sword and his determined look let us know he means business!

My only complaint with this deck is the usual one with Lo Scarabeo's decks - a deck this beautiful deserves a book to match. How else will tarot readers know that the Sun is from the painting Ode to Joy? Most likely only Klimt fans will know that Klimt lost one of his two sons at the age of three months or that he abandoned the mother to a life of poverty. Wouldn't it help us all to know that the gorilla on the Devil card is a personification of the typhoid which hit European cities in the 19th century?

The Golden Tarot of Klimt is a beautiful, beautiful - beautiful!! - deck. One worth having simply to have these treasures of Klimt art. To get the most out of the deck, however, the serious student of tarot will also need to study Klimt. There are worse ways to spend your time.

The Golden Tarot of Klimt
Artwork by A.A. Atanassov, graphics by Pietro Alligo
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
ISBN#: 073870790-2

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

Arielle, well on her way to becoming a weird eccentric, is a Certified Tarot Grand Master living in Florida with one husband and way too many cats. Both tree-hugger and animal lover, she is also a part-time teacher and full-time student of the Tarot.

Review 2005 Arielle Smith
Images 2005 Lo Scarabeo
Page 2005 Diane Wilkes