who is gustav klimt
In 1897 Klimt’s mature style emerged, and he founded the Vienna Sezession, a group of painters who revolted against academic art in favour of a highly decorative style similar to Art Nouveau. Soon thereafter he painted three allegorical murals for the ceiling of the University of Vienna auditorium that were violently criticized; the erotic symbolism and pessimism of these works created such a scandal that the murals were rejected. His later murals, the Beethoven Frieze (1902) and the murals (1909–11) in the dining room of the Stoclet House in Brussels, are characterized by precisely linear drawing and the bold and arbitrary use of flat, decorative patterns of colour and gold leaf. Klimt’s most successful works include The Kiss (1908–09) and a series of portraits of fashionable Viennese matrons, such as Fritza Riedler (1906) and Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907). In these works he treats the human figure without shadow and heightens the lush sensuality of skin by surrounding it with areas of flat, highly ornamental, brilliantly composed areas of decoration.
Gustav Klimt, (born July 14, 1862, Vienna, Austria—died February 6, 1918, Vienna), Austrian painter, founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession.
In 1891, Gustav’s brother Ernst married a woman named Helene Flöge, and that same year, Gustav painted a portrait of her sister, Emilie for the first time. This first meeting marked the beginning of what would be a lifelong friendship and one that would have a meaningful impact on the direction of Klimt’s later work. But it was the personal tragedy of the following year that would have the most significant influence on the course of Klimt’s art, when both his father and brother Ernst died. Profoundly affected by their passing, Klimt began to reject the naturalistic trappings of his training in favor of a more personal style, one that relied heavily on symbolism and drew from a wide range of influences. With the passing of Ernst Klimt and the direction in which Gustav’s style was heading, the Company of Artists was growing steadily more difficult to maintain. They were still receiving commissions, however, and in 1894 were chosen to paint murals for the ceiling of the Great Hall auditorium at the University of Vienna.
Calling themselves the Company of Artists, the trio agreed to focus their work on murals and also to set aside any personal artistic inclinations in favor of the historical style popular among Vienna’s upper class and aristocracy at that time. That decision proved to be a good one, as it not only won them numerous commissions to paint churches, theaters and other public spaces, but also allowed them to work interchangeably on their projects. Their most notable works during this time were the mural at the Vienna Burgtheater and the ceiling above the staircase at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The group was honored for their achievements in 1888 when they received the Golden Order of Merit from Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef I.
Struck by this double tragedy, Gustav retreated from public life, focusing on experimentation and the study of contemporary styles of art, as well as historical styles that were overlooked within the establishment, such as Japanese, Chinese, Ancient Egyptian and Mycenaean art. In 1893, he began work on his last public commission: the paintings Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence, for the University of Vienna. The three would only be completed in the early 1900s, and they would be criticized severely for their radical style and what was, according to the mores of the time, lewdness. Unfortunately, the paintings were destroyed during the Second World War and only black-and-white reproductions of them remain.
The painter was not alone in his opposition to the Austrian artistic establishment of the time. In 1897, he, together with forty other notable Viennese artists, resigned from the Academy of Arts and founded the “Union of Austrian Painters”, more commonly known as the Secession. Klimt was immediately elected president. While the Union had no clearly defined goals or support for particular styles, it was against the classicist establishment, which it found to be oppressive.
Proudly acclaiming, вЂќThere is no self-portrait of me,вЂќ Klimt found his means of expression not in projecting his own image, but in the erotic power of his sensual nudes, his femme fatales. He was, he said, more interested in вЂњpainting.. other people, above all women.вЂќ
When word of this commission was leaked to the public, many people begged Klimt to insert their portraits, however small, into the picture through special sittings with the artist, as being immortalized on canvas as a regular attendee at the Burgtheater constituted a tangible emblem of one’s social status. As a result, the painting serves not only as a valuable record of the theater’s architecture, but also essentially as a catalog of the city’s political, cultural, and economic elites – over 150 individuals in all. Among the audience members are Austria’s Prime Minister; Vienna’s Mayor; the surgeon Theodor Billroth; the composer Johannes Brahms; and the Emperor’s mistress, the actress Katherina Schratt. Though the subject is appropriate for a history painting, its dimensions (the width, its longest side, measures less than 37 inches) are diminutive, making the precision of Klimt’s individual portraits all the more impressive. Critics at the time agreed, as Klimt was awarded the coveted Emperor’s Prize in 1890 for this painting, which significantly raised his profile within the Viennese art community, and a flurry of other important public commissions for buildings on the Ringstrasse soon followed.
Klimt never married; never painted a single self-portrait intended as such; and never claimed to be revolutionizing art in any way. Klimt did not travel extensively, but he did leave Austria on a number of visits to other locations in Europe (although on the one occasion he visited Paris, he left thoroughly unimpressed). With the groundbreaking Secession, Klimt’s primary aim was to call attention to contemporary Viennese artists and in turn to call their attention to the much broader world of modern art beyond Austria’s borders. In this sense Klimt is responsible for helping to transform Vienna into a leading center for culture and the arts at the turn of the century.
Klimt began his formal training in Vienna while the city was undergoing significant change. In 1858, Emperor Franz Joseph I ordered the destruction of the remnants of the old medieval defensive walls that encircled the central part of the city, leaving a large circular space that was redeveloped as a series of broad boulevards known as the Ringstrasse (“ring street”). Over the next thirty years, the Ringstrasse became lined with trees and large bourgeois apartment houses, as well as many new buildings to house various civic and imperial government institutions, including theaters, art museums, the University of Vienna, and the Austrian Parliament building. Along with the newly constructed municipal railway, the arrival of electric street lamps, and city engineers rerouting the Danube River in order to avoid flooding, Vienna was entering a Golden Age of industry, research, and science, driven by modern advancements in these fields. One thing Vienna did not yet have, however, was a revolutionary spirit towards the arts.