Rule of Three


Beethoven Frieze

by Gustav Klimt

View an image of a detail from the artwork

In the depths of a basement lies the Beethoven Frieze, a monumental work that interprets the composer’s Ninth Symphony as an epic narrative of humankind’s eternal struggle for fulfilment. Extending sideways across three panels, the frieze plays with the contrast between blank space and density. A central section is filled with dark, looming, mythical creatures and intricate patterns, intended to represent the immense challenge that must be overcome in order to find joy in life. In the final section, the work reveals itself to be not only a celebration of the lauded composer, but of art in all its forms, as a light that has the power to guide us from darkness.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate


directed by Matteo Garrone
Feature film

View a still from the film

A drive-by shooting causes a car to career off the road, colliding with a yard of plaster sculptures, shattering them into tiny pieces. This may be Gomorrah’s most violent scene, but it is typical of the destruction that saturates the film. Matteo Garrone traces the fallout of the Camorra, a splintering Neapolitan mob, through five disparate stories. The narrative darts erratically between the different strands, channelling chaos and disruption. There are no heroes here, only victims. Denied cinematic gangster glamour, we are left instead with the sobering image of fragmentation and fear.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

BioShock Infinite

developed by Irrational Games
Video game

View a promotional image for the game

Columbia, 1912. An airborne metropolis designed as a world fair exhibit has risen to the clouds to become an autonomous theocracy. Somewhere in this floating dystopia, a young woman is held captive. It is our task to find her. As we navigate the city, we become aware of institutionalised classism and racism, enforced by law. Tears in the space-time continuum deepen the tension, as alternate universes are mined for knowledge and futuristic technologies. Exploring this vast world, we may stumble upon sunny, anachronistic wisps of Beach Boys or Cyndi Lauper songs, distracting us from the shadows of palpable unrest.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Beethoven Frieze: You can find out more about the artwork by visiting the artist's official website here, by reading an article about the artwork by Kat Sark for Suites Culturelles, and by watching a video by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker for Khan Academy.

Gomorrah: You can view a trailer for the film here. Jonah Weiner has written about the film for Slate, as has Carlota Larrea for Senses of Cinema.

BioShock Infinite: You can view the trailer for the game here. Articles available online include: Scott Juster on BioShock Infinite's imagery, for PopMatters; Chelsea Stark on the game's music, for Mashable; and Gerald Voorhees on fatherhood, for Ada.

Today's connection

Klimt's Beethoven Frieze is on permanent display in the Vienna Secession Building, the turf war in Gomorrah is referred to as a 'secession', and Columbia secedes from the United States in BioShock Infinite.

Question of the day

Which secession-related artworks would you recommend?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Kirche am Steinhof, a building designed by Otto Wagner. Wagner, like Klimt, was a member of the Vienna Secession group. (→)

– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)

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