Golden Tarot of Klimt – A.A. Atanassov
“The symbolism inherent in the Tarot is perfectly coherent with that symbolist culture that also gave origin to Klimt’s work. The pictorial images of the Viennese artist are, in fact, full of hermeticism: his works seem to be depictions of a mystery and even more so an expression of emotions and drives.” – From the L(ittle) W(hite) B(ook) to the Golden Tarot of Klimt

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was a Viennese artist arguably most known for his mosaic-like paintings, especially “The Kiss”. Klimt combined pictorial and graphical techniques and history considers him as one of the initiators of modern design. Once a member of the collective studio “School of Arts and Crafts”, Klimt and several contemporaries left the studio to form the Vienna Secession. What united this group was a rejection of tradition and moral aesthetics of the day. In fact, individuals often accused Klimt of pornography for depicting the nude body, especially ones that were full-figured, pregnant, or old.

Inspired by Klimt’s allegorical subjects, A.A. Atanassov has designed a Tarot deck based on the paintings of this famed artist. The Golden Tarot of Klimt not only re-works Klimt’s paintings for each card but also adorns them with stunning golden embossing. Unfortunately, web scans of the cards don’t reflect these shining ornamentations.

The Golden Tarot of Klimt, published by Lo Scarabeo, follows traditional Tarot assignments: Chalices, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords for the suits, standard card names and court depictions (with Knave replacing the more common Page). A brief bio of Klimt is included in the LWB, as are the upright and reversed meanings of each card; these are provided in English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German as is customary with Lo Scarabeo companion booklets.

Black bordering provides beautiful framing for the colorful artwork; tucked near the corners of each card are four golden squares. The reversible card backings display an intricate Egyptian theme of in subdued colors.

Compared to the originals, the reproductions in this deck vary on several counts: the human complexions often appear washed out, even ashen, as does the hair. Klimt’s pieces often featured bright swathes of ruby red on the cheeks of females as well as on the lips. The hair is usually vibrant and lush. However, the figures in the Golden Tarot of Klimt are often pale and many brunets look to be sporting over-used brillo pads.

For example, the Ace of Wands (based on the painting Hope II) adds a pillar, human-size wand but removes the gray “halo” over the central figure, as well as the women at her feet. Her breasts are now small and perky as opposed to the voluptuous depiction in the original. The Wheel (based on the painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer) removes the bright red makeup of the original while sharpening the facial features.

Nevertheless, what the Golden Tarot of Klimt lacks by altering some elements, it more than makes up for with the intricate gold filigree. Artistically, this is the most striking deck I’ve ever seen. The gilded etchings embellish a multitude of geometric shapes, as well as the rounded pentacles, clothing accessories, pillars, backgrounds, boat sails, and more. For example, The Moon card depicts a dreaming woman surrounded by a myriad of gilt crescent moons. The pillar behind the King of Chalices is almost entirely solid gold. The Wheel card displays dozens of glittering triangles, circles, squares and spirals—even highlighting an eye of Horus.

However, I found a few of the cards in the Golden Tarot of Klimt confusing. A serious woman wearing a helmet portrays the Empress; she holds a nude human in her right hand, arms splayed at right angles. The subject appears to be a reference to Athena, which is usually associated with “airy” cards like The Queen of Swords or Justice—not the earthy, nurturing Empress. The Fool is an emaciated, nude, white-haired man holding his head in his hands as if he’s just lost everything. How is this portrait of despair connected to the youthful recklessness or innocent trust of The Fool? The Strength cards shows a woman who appears to be holding a decapitated head by her hair. What kind of “strength” is this, exactly?

Being what LWB’s are, there is no explanation for these unusual choices.

As for reading with the Golden Tarot of Klimt, I had no trouble receiving intuitive information from the evocative images. My husband and I played around doing readings based on real life (such as me trying to predict a “human interest” story from his workday and he performing a 3-card reading for me), but the accuracy seemed hit-and-miss. I’m unsure if it’s the deck, the kind of questions I was asking, or if it was just an off night. (My husband’s reading was accurate, but his is always accurate—which is frustrating since he’s not even a Tarot reader!)

Regardless of any shortcomings, The Golden Tarot of Klimt is a dazzling art deck that is certainly readable. If you’re anything like me, you’ll open the box, “oooh!” and “ahhh!”, and slowly savor each card as the light plays upon the golden accents.  Its uniqueness demands a spot on the shelf of serious deck collectors as well as fans of Klimt.

Below are 9 images from the deck:

Related Articles
The Back in Time Tarot Book - Janet Boyer
The Fairy Tale Tarot - Lisa Hunt
Legacy of the Divine Tarot - Ciro Marchetti
Silver Era Tarot - Aunia Kahn
Shadowscapes Tarot - Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
ShadowFox Tarot - Richard and Jennifer ShadowFox
Twilight Realm A Tarot of Faery - Beth Wilder
Otherworld Tarot - Alison Williams and Sarah Nowell
Morgan's Tarot - Morgan Robbins and Darshan Chorpash
Shining Angels Tarot – Giuditta Dembech and Federico Penco
Heart Tarot - Maria Distefano
Imperial Dragon Oracle (Majors Only) - Andy Baggott and Peter Pracownik
Hallmark Tarot - Darla Hallmark
Hezicos Tarot - Mary Griffin
The Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night - Davide Corsi
Tarot of the Animal Lords - Angelo Giannini
Tarot of the Sweet Twilight - Cristina Benintende
The Transparent Tarot - Emily Carding
Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set (Smith Waite Centennial Tarot)
Paulina Tarot - Paulina Cassidy
Mythical Goddess Tarot - Sage Holloway and Katherine Skaggs
Affirmations for the Everyday Goddess Deck (Majors Only) - Pamela Wells
Quantum Tarot - Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Tell-Me Tarot - Arik Eyal and Nir Cassuto
Trump L’oeil: Tarot of Portmeirion - Craig Conley
Pirate Tarot - Lucas and Carrie Amodio; Liz "Galindorf" Harper
Dark Grimoire Tarot - Michele Panco
Deviant Moon Tarot - Patrick Valenza
The Alchemical Tarot Renewed - Robert M. Place
Faerie Tarot - Nathalie Hertz
The Truth-Seeker's Tarot - David Fontana
Dark Grimoire Tarot - Michele Panco
Undersea Tarot - Frank Fradella
Pearls of Wisdom Tarot - Roxi Sim and Caeli Fullbrite
Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot - Graham Cameron
Tarot of the Angels - Arturo Picca & Giordano Berti
Circle of Life Tarot - Maria Distefano
Pictorial Key Tarot - Davide Corsi
Tarot of the Pirates - Bepi Vigna, Michele Benevento, & Arturro Picca
Lo Scarabeo Tarot - Mark McElroy and Anna Lazzarini
Fantastical Creatures Tarot - Lisa Hunt and D.J. Conway
Sorcerers Tarot - Antonella Castelli
Jean Noblet Tarot - Jean-Claude Flornoy
Fantastical Creatures Tarot - Lisa Hunt and D.J. Conway
Sharman-Caselli Tarot - Juliet Sharman-Burke and Giovanni Caselli
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Tarot - Mark McElroy
21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card - Mary K. Greer
Learning Tarot Spreads - Joan Bunning
Universal Fantasy Tarot - Paolo Martinello
Vanessa Tarot - Lynyrd Narciso
Mystic Faerie Tarot - Linda Ravenscroft and Barbara Moore
UFO Tarot - Arturo Picca
The Arthurian Tarot (2007 Version) - Caitlín and John Matthews
Forest Folklore Tarot - Kessia Beverley-Smith
Napo Tarot - Betty Lopez and Napo
Easy Tarot Kit (Gilded Tarot) - Josephine Ellershaw
Crystal Tarot - Elisabetta Trevisan
Universal Fantasy Tarot - Paolo Martinello
Fantastical Tarot - Nathalie Hertz
Fenestra Tarot - Chatriya Hemharnvibul
The Halloween Tarot - Kipling West
The Instant Tarot Reader (Zerner/Farber Deck) - Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Tarot Discovery Kit (Zerner/Farber Deck) - Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Medieval Enchantment - The NIgel Jackson Tarot
The Victorian Romantic Tarot – Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
Llewellyn's 2007 Tarot Reader
Tarot of Prague - Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
The World Spirit Tarot - Lauren O'Leary and Jessica Godino
Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot - Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov
Animals Divine Tarot - Lisa Hunt
The Tarot of Oz - David Sexton
Tarot of the Dead - Monica Knighton
WorldTree Tarot - Ann Cass
Tarot of Reflections – Francesco Ciampi and Pietro Alligo
Tarot of Metamorphosis – M. Filadoro and L. Di Giammarino
Fairytale Tarot - Karen Mahony, Alex Ukolov, and Irena Triskova
Transformational Tarot - Arnell Ando
Da Vinci Tarot - Mark McElroy, Iassen Ghuiselev, and Atanas Atanassov
True Love Tarot - Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
Rohrig Tarot - Carl-W. Rohrig
Babylonian Tarot - Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Archeon Tarot - Timothy Lantz
Pagan Tarot - Gina Pace
Housewives Tarot - Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum
Epicurean Tarot Recipe Cards - Corrine Kenner
Tarot of Dreams - Ciro Marchetti and Lee Bursten
Revelations Tarot - Zach Wong
Tarot of the Four Elements - Isha Lerner and Amy Ericksen
DruidCraft Tarot - Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm
Gilded Tarot - Ciro Marchetti
Oracle Tarot - Lucy Cavendish
Golden Tarot - Kat Black
Tarot de Paris - J. Philip Thomas
The Quest Tarot - Joseph Ernest Martin
Velvet Tarot Bag
Tarot Tells the Tale - James Ricklef
Tarot Journaling - Corrine Kenner
The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume IV - Stuart Kaplan and Jean Huets
The 2-Hour Tarot Tutor - Wilma Carroll
Everyday Tarot: A Choice Centered Approach - Gail Fairfield
Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled - Rachel Pollack
Llewellyn's 2006 Tarot Reader
Tarot Workbook - Juliet Sharman-Burke
Tarot for Life - Prospero
Tarot Tips - Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone
What's in the Cards For You? - Mark McElroy
Power Tarot: More Than 100 Spreads - Trish Magregor and Phyllis Vega
What Tarot Can Do For You: Your Future in the Cards - Barbara Moore

Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.