Gustav Klimt: The Life of a Modern Artist

Gustav Klimt: a Vida de um Artista Moderno

Who was Gustav Klimt?

Artist Gustav Klimt built an artistic career that marks history to the present day. After 159 years of his birth, on 14 July 1862, the painter from Viennese continues to be remembered for his magnificent works of Art Nouveau with sensitive and dominant female figures. Inspired by ancient cultures - Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek and Byzantine - Gustav Klimt elegantly introduced the golden and colorful tones, and symbolic elements that convey psychological ideas about the freedom of art in relation to classical and traditional academic teachings of the time. Unique and easily recognizable, his paintings demonstrate a sensibility that creates transcendental and sentimental dialogues, based on figures, symbolism, shapes and colors.

Gustav Klimt | P55 - Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art Kunsthistorisches Museum - Gustav Klimt

the first steps

Thanks to a scholarship, he attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule). His first works show the great influence that the teachings of this school had on his work. In 1883, he finished his studies in the year, formed with his brother Ernst Klimt and friend Franz Matsch, a group that painted murals in theaters and other places, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Cart of Thespis, the Altars of Dionysus and Apollo and the Theater in Taormina, as well as scenes from William Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Gustav Klimt became extremely well known after receiving the Emperor's Prize for painting the auditorium of the former Burgtheater theatre. However, it was from this moment that a transformation in his painting movement was revealed, passing from the classical and academic style to Art Nouveau. With this change, the group ended up disbanding for having different artistic goals. In 1892, Gustav Klimt's father and his brother Ernst Klimt passed away, thus causing the artist to withdraw from public life. In 1893, he began his last public commission, the paintings for the University of Vienna, which were only completed in the early 1900s.

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Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, 1907

During this period, he concentrated on experimenting and studying ancient Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese and Mycenaean art, and together with other Viennese artists founded the “Union of Austrian Painters”, better known as the Secession. Gustav Klimt became president, of this union that went against classical and academic style. In addition to the intense figuration, the landscapes of the banks of the Attersee - the place where his annual summer vacation took place - became fundamental and unique in Gustav Klimt's career.

Gustav Klimt | P55 - Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908

the golden phase

This period, in which the use of gold leaf predominated in his paintings, became the most recognized phase, with a greater positive critical reaction and success to date. Works such as the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907-1908).

The Kiss is an extraordinary painting that portrays eroticism, between a couple that floats on a bright background, thus transmitting the feeling of intense passion, for the union of bodies in the act of hugging. The flowers that surround them are an element that demonstrates the iconographic care, as the golden plants that encircle the female figure's feet are known as the herb of Parnassus, an ancient symbol of fertility. The clothes, painted as if they were mosaics, indicate the influence of the Byzantine mosaics.

Gustav Klimt | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art Death and Life by Gustav Klimt, 1908-1910

In 1910, with the painting Death and Life (1908-1910), he finished the Golden Stage. On February 6, 1918, Gustav Klimt passed away, leaving numerous paintings unfinished. The Viennese artist is a symbol of modern art, due to his Art Nouveau portraits, with a strong decorative, geometric component, full of details and adornments. Sexuality, passion, anxiety and even death were some of the themes intensively explored by this artist who represented the body, especially the female, in an exuberant way. His works continue to set records as they are sold at very high prices. In 2006, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) was purchased for the Neue Galerie in New York by Ronald Lauder for $135 million. Discover on P55 the available works of the extraordinary Gustav Klimt.


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