Gustav Klimt

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Gustav Klimt
Klimt.jpg
Photographic portrait from 1914
Born Gustav Klimt
July 14, 1862
Baumgarten, Austrian Empire
Died February 6, 1918(1918-02-06) (aged 55)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Nationality Imperial Austrian
Known for Painter
Notable work(s) Judith and the Head of Holofernes, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, The Kiss, Danaë
Movement Symbolism, Art Nouveau

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female body;[1] his works are marked by a frank eroticism.[2]

Life and work[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Klimt in a light Blue Smock by Egon Schiele, 1913

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children—three boys and four girls.[3] His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver.[4] All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt's younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt.

Klimt lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied architectural painting until 1883.[4] He revered Vienna's foremost history painter of the time, Hans Makart. Klimt readily accepted the principles of a conservative training; his early work may be classified as academic.[4] In 1877 his brother, Ernst, who, like his father, would become an engraver, also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and their friend, Franz Matsch, began working together and by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team that they called the "Company of Artists". They also helped their teacher in painting murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.[4] Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstraße, including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

In 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in the Burgtheater in Vienna.[4] He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892 Klimt's father and brother Ernst both died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father's and brother's families. The tragedies also affected his artistic vision and soon he would move towards a new personal style. Characteristic of his style at the end of the 19th century is the inclusion of Nuda Veritas (nude truth) as a symbolic figure in some of his works, including Ancient Greece and Egypt (1891), Pallas Athene (1898) and Nuda Veritas (1899).[5][6] Historians believe that Klimt with the nuda veritas denounced both the policy of the Habsburgs and the Austrian society, which ignored all political and social problems of that time.[7] In the early 1890s Klimt met Emilie Louise Flöge who, notwithstanding the artist's relationships with other women, was to be his companion until the end of his life. Whether his relationship with Flöge was sexual or not is debated. His painting, The Kiss (1907–08), is thought to be an image of them as lovers. He designed many costumes she created and modeled in his works.

During this period Klimt fathered at least fourteen children.[8]

Vienna secession years[edit]

Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group's periodical, Ver Sacrum ("Sacred Spring"). He remained with the Secession until 1908. The goals of the group were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the works of the best foreign artists to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase the work of members.[9] The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.[10]

Salome

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, and were called "pornographic".[11] Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language that was more overtly sexual and hence more disturbing to some.[11] The public outcry came from all quarters—political, aesthetic and religious. As a result, the paintings (seen in gallery below) were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist.

All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945.[12][13]

His Nuda Veritas (1899) defined his bid to further "shake up" the establishment.[14] The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad."[15]

In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the Fourteenth Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger. Intended for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it was not displayed again until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler, with whom Klimt had a respectful relationship.[16]

During this period Klimt did not confine himself to public commissions. Beginning in the late 1890s he took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores of Attersee and painted many of his landscapes there. These landscapes constitute the only genre aside from figure painting that seriously interested Klimt. In recognition of his intensity, the locals called him Waldschrat ("Forest demon").[17]

Klimt's Attersee paintings are of sufficient number and quality as to merit separate appreciation. Formally, the landscapes are characterized by the same refinement of design and emphatic patterning as the figural pieces. Deep space in the Attersee works is flattened so efficiently to a single plane, that it is believed that Klimt painted them by using a telescope.[18]

Golden phase and critical success[edit]

Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success. Many of his paintings from this period include gold leaf. Klimt had previously used gold in his Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–08).

Klimt travelled little, but trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist that was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age. Klimt's contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative works, and as he publicly stated, "probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament."[19]

In 1905, Klimt created a painted portrait of Margarete Wittgenstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein's sister, on the occasion of her marriage.[20] Then, between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing he had designed.

As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was somewhat cloistered, devoted to his art, family, and little else except the Secessionist Movement. He avoided café society and seldom socialized with other artists. Klimt's fame usually brought patrons to his door and he could afford to be highly selective. His painting method was very deliberate and painstaking at times and he required lengthy sittings by his subjects. Although very active sexually, he kept his affairs discreet and he avoided personal scandal.

Klimt wrote little about his vision or his methods. He wrote mostly postcards to Flöge and kept no diary. In a rare writing called "Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait", he states "I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures."[21]

In 1901 Herman Bahr wrote, in his Speech on Klimt: "Just as only a lover can reveal to a man what life means to him and develop its innermost significance, I feel the same about these paintings."[22]

Later life and posthumous success[edit]

Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which sold for a record $135 million in 2006, Neue Galerie, New York

In 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome. In 1915 Anna, his mother, died. Klimt died three years later in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the influenza epidemic of that year.[23][24][25] He was buried at the Hietzinger Cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna. Numerous paintings by him were left unfinished.

Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt's Landhaus am Attersee sold for $29,128,000,[26] but that sale was soon eclipsed by prices paid for other Klimts.

In 2006, the 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, was purchased for the Neue Galerie New York by Ronald Lauder reportedly for US $135 million, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy With a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million), as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting.

On August 7, 2006, Christie's auction house announced it was handling the sale of the remaining four works by Klimt that were recovered by Maria Altmann and her co-heirs after their long legal battle against Austria (see Republic of Austria v. Altmann). The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II was sold at auction in November 2006 for $88 million, the third-highest priced piece of art at auction at the time.[27] The Apple Tree I (ca. 1912) sold for $33 million, Birch Forest (1903) sold for $40.3 million,[28] and Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter (1916) sold for $31 million. Collectively, the five restituted paintings netted more than $327 million.[29] An unremarkable Attersee painting fetched $40.4 million at Sotheby's in November 2011.[30]

The city of Vienna, Austria had many special exhibitions commemorating the 150th anniversary of Klimt's birth in 2012. Google commemorated this anniversary as well, with a Google doodle.

Klimt's Folios[edit]

The Sunflower, c. 1906

Gustav Klimt: "Das Werk"[edit]

Decorative patterns were often used by Gustav Klimt in his paintings. Detail fron the Palais Stoclet in Brüssel, Die Umarmung, The hug.

The only folio set produced in Klimt's lifetime, Das Werk Gustav Klimts, was published initially by H. O. Miethke (of Gallerie Miethke, Klimt's exclusive gallery in Vienna) from 1908 to 1914 in an edition of 300, supervised personally by the artist. Fifty images depicting Klimt's most important paintings (1893–1913) were reproduced using collotype lithography and mounted on a heavy, cream-colored wove paper with deckled edges. Thirty-one of the images (ten of which are multicolored) are printed on Chine-collé. The remaining nineteen are high quality halftones prints. Each piece was marked with a unique signet—designed by Klimt—which was impressed into the wove paper in gold metallic ink. The prints were issued in groups of ten to subscribers, in unbound black paper folders embossed with Klimt's name. Because of the delicate nature of collotype lithography, as well as the necessity for multicolored prints (a feat difficult to reproduce with collotypes), and Klimt's own desire for perfection, the series that was published in mid-1908 was not completed until 1914.

Each of the fifty prints was categorized among five themes:

  1. Allegorical (which included multicolored prints of The Golden Knight, 1903 and The Virgin, c. 1912)
  2. Erotic-Symbolist (Water Serpents I and II, both c. 1907–08 and The Kiss, c. 1908)
  3. Landscapes (Farm Garden with Sunflowers, c. 1912)
  4. Mythical or Biblical (Pallas Athena, 1898; Judith and The Head of Holofernes, 1901; and Danaë, c. 1908)
  5. Portraits (Emilie Flöge, 1902)

The monochrome collotypes as well as the halftone works were printed with a variety of colored inks ranging from sepia to blue and green. Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria was the first to purchase a folio set of Das Werk Gustav Klimts in 1908.

Fünfundzwanzig Handzeichnungen[edit]

Fünfundzwanzig Handzeichnungen ("Twenty-five Drawings") was released the year after Klimt's death. Many of the drawings in the collection were erotic in nature and just as polarizing as his painted works. Published in Vienna in 1919 by Gilhofer & Ranschburg, the edition of 500 features twenty-five monochrome and two-color collotype reproductions, nearly indistinguishable from the original works. While the set was released a year after Klimt's death, some art historians suspect he was involved with production planning due to the meticulous nature of the printing (Klimt had overseen the production of the plates for Das Werk Gustav Klimts, making sure each one was to his exact specifications, a level of quality carried through similarly in Fünfundzwanzig Handzeichnungen). The first ten editions also each contained an original Klimt drawing.

Many of the works contained in this volume depict erotic scenes of nude women, some of whom are masturbating alone or are coupled in sapphic embraces. When a number of the original drawings were exhibited to the public, at Gallerie Miethke in 1910 and the International Exhibition of Prints and Drawings in Vienna in 1913, they were met by critics and viewers who were hostile towards Klimt's contemporary perspective. There was an audience for Klimt's erotic drawings, however, and fifteen of his drawings were selected by Viennese poet Franz Blei for his translation of Hellenistic satirist Lucian's Dialogues of the Courteseans. The book, limited to 450 copies, provided Klimt the opportunity to show these more lurid depictions of women and avoided censorship thanks to an audience composed of a minute group of (mostly male) affluent patrons.

Gustav Klimt An Aftermath[edit]

Composed in 1931 by editor Max Eisler and printed by the Austrian State Printing Office, Gustav Klimt An Aftermath was intended to complete the lifetime folio Das Werk Gustav Klimts. The folio contains thirty colored collotypes (fourteen of which are multicolored) and follows a similar format found in Das Werk Gustav Klimts, replacing the unique Klimt-designed signets with gold-debossed plate numbers. One hundred and fifty sets were produced in English, with twenty of them (Nos. I–XX) presented as a "gala edition" bound in gilt leather. The set contains detailed images from previously released works (Hygeia from the University Mural Medicine, 1901; a section of the third University Mural Jurisprudence, 1903), as well as the unfinished paintings (Adam and Eve, Bridal Progress).

Gallery[edit]

Selected works[edit]

Legacy[edit]

According to the writer Frank Whitford: "Klimt of course, is an important artist—he's a very popular artist—but in terms of the history of art, he's a very unimportant artist. Although he sums up so much in his work, about the society in which he found himself—in art historical terms his effect was negligible. So he's an artist really in a cul-de-sac."[35]

  • Klimt's work had a strong influence on the paintings of Egon Schiele, with whom he would collaborate to found the Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) in 1917, to try to keep local artists from going abroad.
  • National Public Radio reported on January 17, 2006 that "The Austrian National Gallery is being compelled by a national arbitration board to return five paintings by Gustav Klimt to a Los Angeles woman, the heir of a Jewish family that had its art stolen by the Nazis. The paintings are estimated to be worth at least $150 million."[36]
The painting coin, featuring Gustav Klimt
  • Klimt's work has spawned many reinterpretations, including the works of Slovak artist Rudolf Fila.
  • Couturier John Galliano found inspiration for the Christian Dior Spring-Summer 2008 haute couture collection in Klimt's work.
  • Romanian poet Sebastian Reichmann has published in 2008 a book called Mocheta lui Klimt (Klimt's Carpet). As the author says in an interview,[37] and even in one of the poems from the book, the title was inspired by a carpet that reminded him of Klimt's paintings. The book's front cover depicts an Art Nouveau-styled passage from Bucharest.
  • South Korean novelist Kim Young-ha frequently refers to Klimt, particularly Judith, in his first novel I Have The Right To Destroy Myself. One of the main characters in this novel is referred to by the other characters as Judith because of her resemblance to Klimt's painting and thus, also is known primarily as Judith to the reader.
  • "Klimt" is a musical composition by Claudio Ottaviano Trio included in the album "Notturno" (NuomRecords 2013).
  • Several of Klimt's most famous works from his golden period inspired the title sequence for the animated adaptation of the manga series, Elfen Lied, in which the art is recreated to fit with the series' own characters and is arranged as a montage with the song "Lilium". The opening to the anime Sound of the Sky also is largely inspired by Klimt's works.
  • Japanese rock band Buck-Tick based the cover artwork of their 2012 album, Yume Miru Uchuu, on Klimt's Gold Fish.[38]
  • The design of the land of Centopia on the TV series Mia and Me is inspired by Klimt's works.

The Painting Gold Coin[edit]

External video
Gustav Klimt - Death and Life - Google Art Project.jpg
Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze
Gustav Klimt's The Kiss

Klimt's Death and Life

All from Smarthistory
The Magic of Line: Gustav Klimt's Artistic Process on YouTube, Getty Museum

Gustav Klimt and his work have been the subjects of many collector coins and medals, such as the 100 Euro Painting Gold Coin, issued on November 5, 2003, by the Austrian Mint. The obverse depicts Klimt in his studio with two unfinished paintings on easels.[citation needed]

Commemoration of 150th anniversary of birth[edit]

In addition to the permanent exhibitions on display, the city of Vienna, Austria celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Klimt with special exhibitions throughout the city. Guided walking tours through the city allowed people to see some of the buildings where Klimt worked.

Google commemorated Gustav Klimt with a doodle[39] celebrating Klimt's painting The Kiss on his 150th birthday, 14 July 2012.[40][41]

In 2012, the Austrian Mint began a five-coin gold series to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Klimt's birth. The first 50 Euro gold coin was issued on January 25, 2012 and featured a portrait of Klimt on the obverse and a portion of his painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer.[42]

Gustav Klimt Foundation[edit]

In 2013, the Gustav Klimt Foundation was set up by Ursula Ucicky, widow of Klimt's illegitimate son Gustav Ucicky, with a mission to "preserve and disseminate Gustav Klimt's legacy." The managing director of Leopold Museum, Peter Weinhäupl, was appointed as Chairman of the foundation. As a reaction, the museum's director Tobias G. Natter resigned in protest, citing Ucicky's past as a Nazi propaganda film-maker.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleidel 1994, p. 14. The most important element of his fame is his reputation as a master of eroticism.
  2. ^ Sabarsky 1983, p. 18.
  3. ^ Fliedl 1994, p. 230.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sabarsky 1983, p. 7.
  5. ^ Against Klimt. Article in Kurier, May 12, 2012.
  6. ^ Nuda Veritas, Gustav Klimt. Article on the Website of the Austrian Theatre Museum.
  7. ^ Jane Rogoyska,Patrick Bade: Gustav Klimt, page 30. Parkstone International, 2012 (German). Book on Google, ISBN 1906981221.
  8. ^ Collins, John (2001), Klimt: Modernism In The Making, Harry N. Abrams, p. 99, ISBN 978-0-8109-3524-2 
  9. ^ Whitford 1990, p. 69.
  10. ^ Klimt's radical version of Pallas Athena
  11. ^ a b Sabarsky 1983, p. 9.
  12. ^ Jones, Jonathan (May 6, 2008). "Klimt's Dazzling demons". The Guardian. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  13. ^ SheilaTGTG55 (October 13, 2011). "The Fire At Schloss Immendorf". Open Salon. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Gustav Klimt Painting - Early Works / Nuda Veritas 1899 / Klimt Gallery | Klimt Museum | KLIMT.com Museum". Klimt.com. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  15. ^ Whitford 1990, p. 52.
  16. ^ April 28, 2011 (2011-04-28). "Looted Klimt – the Mahler connections". Arts journal. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  17. ^ Koja, Stephan (2002), Gustav Klimt Landscapes, et al, Prestel, p. 27 
  18. ^ Wagner, Anselm (2002), "Klimt's Landscapes and the Telescope", Gustav Klimt Landscapes, Prestel, pp. 161–71 
  19. ^ Whitford 1990, p. 103.
  20. ^ Edmunds, D. and Eidenow, J. Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers, 2001, page 83.
  21. ^ Whitford 1990, p. 18.
  22. ^ Kelly, Dr. Julia (2004), "Introduction to Payne, L", Klimt, Exclusive Editions, ISBN 1-84461-185-X 
  23. ^ "Timeline and life history". iKlimt. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  24. ^ Neret, Gilles (1999), Gustav Klimt: 1862–1918, Taschen, p. 84, ISBN 3-8228-5980-X 
  25. ^ Comini, Alessandra (2001), Gustav Klimt, George Braziller, p. 5, ISBN 0-8076-0806-8 
  26. ^ Siegal, Nina (November 6, 2003), "Klimt sets record", Bloomberg (Thing), retrieved February 4, 2007 [dead link].
  27. ^ Michaud, Christopher (November 9, 2006), "Christie's stages record art sale", Reuter's, retrieved November 9, 2006 [dead link].
  28. ^ Kinsella 2007, p. 111.
  29. ^ Kinsella 2007, p. 112.
  30. ^ "Someone just paid $40 million for Mahler’s summer home". Arts journal. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  31. ^ "University of Wales Trinity Saint David". UK: Lamp. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  32. ^ Klimt, Beethoven frieze (JPEG), iBiblio 
  33. ^ Beethoven frieze (JPEG), iBiblio 
  34. ^ Jurisprudence (JPEG), ECFS, archived from the original on July 3, 2007. 
  35. ^ Whitford, speaking on The Kiss: The Private Life of a Masterpiece, BBC TV
  36. ^ Burbank, Luke Austria to return paintings to Jewish heir, National Public Radio, 17 January 2006.
  37. ^ "Catalog / carte". Cartea romaneasca. RO. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  38. ^ "BUCK-TICK reveals new artist photo + jacket covers for "Yume Miru Uchuu"". tokyohive.com. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  39. ^ "The Kiss doodle". Google.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  40. ^ "Google Doodle for 150th Birthday of Gustav Klimt, an Austrian Painter | RtoZ Social Media News". Maxblogtips.com. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  41. ^ "Google doodles Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss' on his 150th birthday". Ibnlive.in.com. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 
  42. ^ Coin Update News New Austrian Gold Coin Series “Klimt and His Women” 13 January 2012.
  43. ^ Julia Michalska (October 30, 2013), Vienna’s Leopold Museum director resigns in protest The Art Newspaper.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fleidel, Gottfried (1994), Gustav Klimt 1862–1918 The World in Female Form, Benedikt Taschen .
  • Kinsella, Eileen (January 2007), "Gold Rush", Artnews .
  • O'Connor, Anne-Marie (2012). The Lady in Gold, The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 0-307-26564-1.
  • Sabarsky, Serge (1983), Gustav Klimt: Drawings, et al, Moyer Bell, ISBN 0-918825-19-9 .
  • Whitford, Frank (1990), Klimt, Thames and Hudson .

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]