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More than an art deck recreating some of Gustav Klimt’s styles and techniques, the Golden Tarot of Klimt is executed with taste and the judicious and delicious use of gold stamping. It is close enough to the Rider-Waite-Smith for ease in divination and the depth of Klimt’s symbolic art will also help you in meditation and as a trigger for astral projection. Although this may not be a deck for daily use, it is one you will be drawn to again and again.
The art of Gustav Klimt (1862??"1918), filled with symbolism, passion and eroticism, have become so popular that they appear everywhere, from posters on college student’s walls to coffee mugs, from stained glass imitations to ceramic tile. His piece, "The Kiss," is virtually iconic and his painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer sold for $135 million in 2006, the highest price ever for a painting.
Klimt combined graphic techniques with pictorial ones, flaunting conventions of the time, perhaps in anticipation of Weimar Germany that began a year after his death. Besides his mastery of inventive art and design, many of his works included mystical symbolism and allegory. It was this that inspired the creation of the Golden Tarot of Klimt.
There are two things you will notice immediately when you look at this deck. First, the black borders of the cards make the muted color palate of Atanassov’s version of Klimt’s work really stand out and jump at you. In graphics terms, the images "pop." The result even gives a semi-3D quality to some of the cards that is striking.
The second thing you will notice is the dramatic yet judicious use of gold stamping to various lines and sections, giving the cards an amazing richness that goes beyond standard reproductions of Klimt’s work. Frankly, it’s not as amazing as the use of this process found on the Golden Botticelli Tarot. However, that’s not a bad thing. The Golden Botticelli literally knocks you over with its use of gold stamping, taking your breath away. Here, the gold stamping is addend less extravagantly, accenting the colors and symbols of the images. It becomes an exciting addition rather than a focus. And considering the brilliant reproductions, I have to compliment Atanassov on the decision to use metallic gold with more restraint.
Some of the cards are very close to Klimt’s originals, while others are simply based on Klimt’s style, itself heavily influenced by everything from classical Greek and Minoan art to the Japanese Ukiyo-e style. Many of the images use the famous textile-like backgrounds Klimt often used. For example, the Fool uses such a background in front of which is an elderly nude male, standing with his head in his hands. The LWB describes this ias "Lack of points of reference, loss of identity, confusion" and gives Rebirth, stripping oneself completely, letting go of excess" as divinatory meanings. So the image is different from the RWS, and the meanings, while similar, have slightly different flavors??"appropriate for a rebel of Klimt’s style.
The art in this deck covers the styles of Klimt throughout his lifetime. Thus, you’ll find scenes as familiar as the aforementioned iconic "The Kiss" (as the Lovers), but also a more Beardslyesque Strength card. Death looks like a medieval painting of a religious icon while the Devil appears to be a precursor to post-war surrealism and Jungian dreamwork. The seven of Chalices is a bizarre blend of Egyptian and Japanese styles that works, although I wish that Atanassov would have followed more of a pattern, say one style per suit. However, the Minor Arcana is closer to the RWS than the Majors, making it easy to read.
Many of the cards are eerily evocative of other realms and dimensions, making this deck ideal to work with for astral projection and even for meditation. Focusing on the images can help you literally get out of your head.
The one difficulty I have with decks of this type of voracious beauty is that the symbolism can be too deep. While good for meditation, astral projection, etc., such depth can get in the way of divination. When thinking of the meaning of a card and its position in a spread, if you’re like me you can end up getting "lost" in the card itself. Great for meditation; not so good for divination.
Still, this is a well-designed deck that can be used for divination, meditation, and astral travel. It will definitely go in my set of decks I keep for occasional use. The LWB includes a wonderfully complex 16-card spread called "The Circle of Faults and Virtues" which people should work with just to show there are more possibilities with the Tarot than simply mix the cards all together and lay them out. Highly recommended as a deck to use on occasion and as an art deck.
Name of deck: Golden Tarot of Klimt
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Artist’s name: Atanas Alexandrov Atanassov, based on the art of Gustav Klimt
Name of accompanying booklet: Golden Tarot of Klimt
Number of pages of booklet: 64 (14 in English)
Author of booklet: Bepi Vigna
Available in a boxed kit?: Yes. The boxed kit includes a gold satin pouch to hold and protect the deck.
Magical Uses: Meditation; Astral Projection.
Reading Uses: General.
Artistic Style: Vienna Succession with the addition of gold stamped extras.
Theme: The art of Klimt.
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other (if other, describe): Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Yes, but with the pre-RWS numeration where Justice is VIII and Strength is XI.
Does it have extra cards? If yes, what are they?: No.
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards? If yes, what are they?: No.
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits? If yes, what are they?: Cups become Chalices.
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards? If yes, what are they?: Pages become Knaves.
Why was deck created?: To show the match between the symbolism of the RWS Tarot with the symbolism of Klimt’s artwork.
Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck: Tarot for Beginners; 1-2-3 Tarot
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: Tarot & Magic; Rachel Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom
Alternative decks you might like:
Golden Botticelli Tarot
Tarot Art Nouveau Deluxe