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Friday, December 13, 2013
The Story of Gustav Klimt the Painter
Gustav Klimt July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918
Few people go through life without hearing
his name or seeing his painting ‘The Kiss’. Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist
born in 1862 just outside of Vienna. He was a symbolist painter whose pieces
were often considered pornographic at the time, and he was certainly fond of
the female form, fathering upwards of fourteen children.
was commissioned to create public art only once, for the ceiling of the Great
Hall of the University of Vienna; however, many officials reacted with shock
and horror to his piece which never went up. The 3 separate paintings hung in a
gallery until they were all destroyed by the retreating SS forces during World
Growing up Klimt idolised another very
popular Viennese painter Hans Makart, and was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He went his own way, however, when
he moved on to the Vienna art scene and became one of the founding members of
the ‘Wiener Sezession’ (Vienna Secession) in 1897. This was a group of artists
who couldn’t stand the conservative nature of the art scene, regulated by the
Association of Austrian Artists. Klimt became the first president of this new
and pioneering group, who made waves across Vienna with the slogan ‘To every age
its art, to art its freedom’. Similar secession movements were even set up in
Berlin and Munich. The group held its very first exhibition in Vienna in 1898,
but the heady days of dissident art came to an end in 1905 due to differences
of artistic opinion between the Naturalists,
Realists, and Symbolists.
"The Kiss" painted between 1908 to 1909
After the Secession years, Klimt really
found success, using the period signature gold leaf, and receiving first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome. Klimt
continued to work up until suffering a fatal stroke on February 6, 1918. He was
buried at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna. He left behind one of the most
impressive artistic legacies to date, with his portrait ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer I’
selling for $135 million - the highest price ever recorded for a painting.