Select By: Painters | Styles | Prices | Subject
    KLIMT, Gustav  

GUSTAV KLIMT, Austrian painter (1867-1918)

The work of the Austrian painter and illustrator Gustav Klimt, b. July 14, 1862, d. Feb. 6, 1918, founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession, embodies the high-keyed erotic, psychological, and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the-century Vienna's dazzling intellectual world.

He has been called the preeminent exponent of ART NOUVEAU. Klimt began (1883) as an artist-decorator in association with his brother and Franz Matsoh. In 1886-92, Klimt executed mural decorations for staircases at the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; these confirmed Klimt's eclecticism and broadened his range of historical references. Klimt was a cofounder and the first president of the Vienna Secession, a group of modernist architects and artists who organized their own exhibition society and gave rise to the SECESSION MOVEMENT, or the Viennese version of Art Nouveau. He was also a frequent contributor to Ver Sacrum, the group's journal.

Among the important decorative projects undertaken by Klimt were his celebrated Beethoven frieze (1902; Osterreichische Galerie), a cycle of mosaic decorations for Josef Hofmann's Palais Stoclet in Brussels (1905-09), and numerous book illustrations.

The primal forces of sexuality, regeneration, love, and death form the dominant themes of Klimt's work. His paintings of femmes fatales, such as Judith I (1901; Osterreichische Galerie, Vienna), personify the dark side of sexual attraction. The Kiss (1907-08; Osterreichische Galerie) celebrates the attraction of the sexes; and Hope I (1903; National Gallery, Ottawa) juxtaposes the promise of new life with the destroying force of death. The sensualism and originality of Klimt's art led to a hostile reaction to his three ceiling murals--Philosophy (1900), Medicine (1901), and Jurisprudence (1902)--for the University of Vienna.

Klimt's style drew upon an enormous range of sources: classical Greek, Byzantine, Egyptian, and Minoan art; late-medieval painting and the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer; photography and the symbolist art of Max Klinger; and the work of both Franz von Stuck and Fernand Khnopff. In synthesizing these diverse sources, Klimt's art achieved both individuality and extreme elegance.
  KLIMT, Gustav related Styles :