Gustav Klimt

Self portrait -Gustav Klimt


Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Art Nouveau (Vienna Secession) movement. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism–nowhere is this more apparent than in his numerous drawings in pencil (see Mulher sentada, below).

Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, the second of seven children, three boys and four girls. All three sons displayed artistic talent early on. His father, Ernst Klimt, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. Ernst married Anna Klimt (nee Finster), whose unrealized ambition was to be a musical performer. Klimt lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and the economy difficult for immigrants. During the 1880s, Gustav Klimt, his brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch, begin a productive cooperation. They begin to do work in theaters, in churches, and public work in museums; many of the pieces which they created, were ordered by patrons who frequented the locations which they created works for. During this time, Gustav Klimt also created a piece for the Burg Theater, as well as the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which is located in Vienna. The Allegories collection that he submits, is seen as a creative, and timeless piece; because of the work, he is commissioned to do a second piece for the museum. In this second collection, the style which includes gold paint, abstract space in the art, and exotic symbolism of the female figure, is a prominent style, which he sticks with for future pieces that he creates.

Gustav Klimt Style


In 1891, Gustav Klimt enrolls and becomes a member of the Co-operative society of Austrian artists, and the following year, both his brother and his father pass away. It is during this time that he decides to move to a larger studio, so that he will be able to create more, and will have more room to delve into the art forms he wants to work on in the future. In 1893, Gustav Klimt and Matsch are commissioned to paint the ceiling of the cathedral, in the new university of Vienna. During this period, both artists have a falling out; this in turn slows down the work, since both are taking a different approach in creation. Many of the pieces that were designed for the university, including “Medicine” and “Jurisprudence”, are not widely accepted by the local community, and are met with disdain due to the extreme symbolic nature in the art forms that were created in this public institution.

Due to the disgrace, and disdain of locals, Gustav Klimt feels that his work and popularity are taking a turn for the worst; it is in 1897 that he begins the Secession Movement. This movement takes focus on young artists, in an attempt to expose their work, and help bring foreign art forms to the Vienna based magazines. In 1898, the movement has its first organized exhibit, which draws in a very large showing, of about 57,000 visitors. From this period, to about 1905, Gustav Klimt was a central force and leader of this movement; in fact, during this decade, it was the most popular, and most well known art movement in Vienna.
Although Gustav Klimt and his former partner had a falling out, in 1900, the first exhibit which he created for the University of Vienna, was laid out for public display. It was presented at the Paris World Fair, and he won the Grand Prix award for this piece. He continues the work in the university through 1901, even though it is met with criticism by many locals in Vienna. In 1918, Gustav Klimt suffered from a stroke in his apartment; and, on February 6th of that year, he dies due to pneumonia. Although much of his work was not accepted during his career, due to his intense style, and graphic depictions, it was far more accepted following his death. In addition to the sales of his pieces increasing post death, many of the pieces that Gustav Klimt did create during the course of his career, were seen as some of the best to come out of Vienna, and some of the most influential pieces for future artists coming out of the city.
The Kiss, 1907 by Gustav Klimt
The Tree of Life, 1905 by Gustav Klimt
Klimt’s art style is pretty interesting as it is a part of Art Neavou which has a lot of feminine touches to it, also this art style focuses on nature and swirly tendrils.

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