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Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt

(1862 - 1918)
Born: Vienna, Austria
Style: Expressionism
Famous Works:
  • The Beethoven Frieze (1902)
  • The Kiss (1907-08)
  • Death and Life (1908-16)
Gustav Klimt was raised in the city of Vienna by his father, an engraver. All three of the Klimt brothers exhibited substantial artistic ability very young, and Gustav earned a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, where he would study for seven years. Klimt, along with his brother Ernst and a friend, Franz Matsch, achieved some preofessional success as a team, securing several commissions to paint ceilings and murals around Vienna. Much of Klimt's early work is rather conventional, existing comfortably within the confines of his training. The bold and unique style that is now associated with Klimt's work would begin to present itself in his late twenties. The loss of his father and his brother Ernst, and his budding relationship with Emilie Flöge, who would become his muse and lifetime companion, had profound effects on Klimt's style. Klimt was influenced by several contemporary movements. The Impressionists, Symbolists, and members of the Art Nouveau movement all contributed to his style. In 1897 Klimt co-founded the Vienna Secession, a group of artists committed to breaking away from the staunch conservatism of the Künstlerhaus, the most powerful arts society in Vienna at the time. As president of the Secession, Klimt proceeded to paint some of his most loved images of women and mythological subjects. The works are highly decorated on the surface, sensual and lush, and often quite passionate; many of his works were even considered pornographic at the time. Klimt is heralded as the leading painter of Vienna, and, with the other secessionists, ushered in a rich and radical era of Viennese art. Klimt died in 1918, a victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic that would also claim the life of his protégé, Egon Schiele.
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