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. His major works include
paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt's
primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by
a frank eroticism—nowhere is this more apparent than in his
numerous drawings in pencil.
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 group's goals were to provide exhibitions for
unconventional young artists, to bring the best foreign artists'
works to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase
members' work. 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—and Klimt painted
his radical version in 1898.
Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and success.
Many of his paintings from this period used gold leaf; the
prominent use of gold can first be traced back to 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 - 1908). 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, which 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 work, and as he publicly stated, "probably
the ultimate stage of my development of ornament." 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 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 and family and little else except the
Secessionist Movement, and he avoided café society and other
artists socially. 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.
In 1911 his
painting Death and Life received first prize in the world
exhibitions in Rome. In 1915 his mother Anna died. Klimt died
three years later in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered
a stroke and pneumonia. He was buried at the Hietzing Cemetery
in Vienna. Numerous paintings were left unfinished.
have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual
works of art. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is a painting by
Gustav Klimt completed in 1907. According to press reports it
was sold for US$135 million to Ronald Lauder for his Neue
Galerie in New York City in June 2006, which made it at that
time the most expensive painting ever sold. It has been on
display at the gallery since July 2006.