About us
Artists Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt Photo

Gustav Klimt

Austrian Painter

Movements and Styles: Symbolism, Art Nouveau, The Vienna Secession, The Wiener Werkstätte

Born: July 14, 1862 - Baumgarten, Austro-Hungarian Empire

Died: February 6, 1918 - Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire

Gustav Klimt Timeline

Quotes

"Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist which alone is significant - they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want."
Gustav Klimt
"Sometimes I miss out the morning's painting session and instead study my Japanese books in the open."
Gustav Klimt
"There is no self-portrait of me."
Gustav Klimt
"There is nothing that special to see when looking at me. I'm a painter who paints day in day out, from morning till evening - figure pictures and landscapes, more rarely portraits."
Gustav Klimt
"Enough of censorship. I am having recourse to self-help. I want to get out."
Gustav Klimt, reflecting on the University of Vienna paintings controversy, 1905
"I can paint and draw. I believe this myself and a few other people say that they believe this too. But I'm not certain of whether it's true."
Gustav Klimt
"Even when I have to write a simple letter I'm scared stiff, as if faced with looming seasickness."
Gustav Klimt
"Today I want to start working again in earnest - I'm looking forward to it because doing nothing does become rather boring after a while."
Gustav Klimt

"All art is erotic."

Gustav Klimt Signature

Synopsis

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt had many quirks. Once, his patron Friederika Maria Beer-Monti came to his studio to have her portrait painted, wearing a flashy polecat jacket designed by Klimt's friends at the Wiener Werkstätte. One would think Klimt would approve, but instead he had her turn it inside out to expose the red silk lining, and that was how he painted her. But Klimt, Vienna's most renowned artist of the era, had the prestige to do this. He is still remembered as one of the greatest decorative painters of the 20th century, while also producing one of the century's most significant bodies of erotic art. Initially successful in his endeavors for architectural commissions in an academic manner, his encounter with more modern trends in European art encouraged him to develop his own highly personal, eclectic, and often fantastic style. As the co-founder and first president of the Vienna Secession, Klimt also ensured that this movement would become widely influential. Klimt never courted scandal, but the highly controversial subject matter of his work in a traditionally very conservative artistic center dogged his career. Although he never married, Klimt remains romantically linked to several mistresses, with whom he is said to have fathered fourteen children, despite his extreme discretion about his personal life.

Key Ideas

Klimt first achieved acclaim as a decorative painter of historical scenes and figures through his many commissions to embellish public buildings. He continued to refine the decorative qualities so that the flattened, shimmering patterns of his nearly-abstract compositions, what is now known as his "Golden Phase" works, ultimately became the real subjects of his paintings.
Though a "fine art" painter, Klimt was an outstanding exponent of the equality between the fine and decorative arts. Having achieved some of his early success by painting within a greater architectural framework, he accepted many of his best-known commissions that were designed to complement other elements of a complete interior, thereby creating a Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art"). Later in his career, he worked in concert with artists of the Wiener Werkstätte, the Austrian design organization that aimed to improve the quality and visual appeal of everyday objects.
Klimt was one of the most important founders of the Vienna Secession in 1897, and served as its initial president, though he was chosen less for his completed oeuvre - relatively small at that point - than his youthful personality and willingness to challenge authority. His forcefulness and international fame as the most famous Art Nouveau painter contributed much to the Secession's early success - but also the movement's swift fall from prominence when he left it in 1905.
Although Klimt's art is now widely popular, it was neglected for much of the 20th century. His works for public spaces provoked a storm of opposition in his own day, facing charges of obscenity due to their erotic content, eventually causing Klimt to withdraw from government commissions altogether. His drawings are no less provocative and give full expression to his considerable sexual appetite.
Despite his fame and generosity in mentoring younger artists, including Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, Klimt produced virtually no direct followers and his work has consistently been regarded as highly personal and singular, even up to the present day. However, his paintings share many formal and thematic characteristics with the Expressionists and Surrealists of the interwar years, even though many of them may not have been familiar with Klimt's art.

Biography

Gustav Klimt Photo

Childhood

Born to Ernst Klimt, a gold engraver who was originally from Bohemia, and Anna Finster, an aspiring but unsuccessful musical performer, Gustav Klimt was the second of seven children raised in the small suburb of Baumgarten, southwest of Vienna. The Klimt family was poor, as work was scarce in the early years of the Habsburg Empire, especially for minority ethnic groups, due in large part to the 1873 stock market crash.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Gustav Klimt Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Gustav Klimt
Interactive chart with Gustav Klimt's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Hans MakartHans Makart
Margaret MacDonaldMargaret MacDonald
Max KlingerMax Klinger

Personal Contacts

Adolf LoosAdolf Loos
Franz MatschFranz Matsch
Emilie FlogeEmilie Floge
Josef HoffmannJosef Hoffmann

Movements

JaponismJaponism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
PointillismPointillism
NaturalismNaturalism

Influences on Artist
Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt
Years Worked: 1880 - 1917
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Egon SchieleEgon Schiele
Oskar KokoschkaOskar Kokoschka
Theo van DoesburgTheo van Doesburg

Personal Contacts

Josef HoffmannJosef Hoffmann
Joseph Maria OlbrichJoseph Maria Olbrich
Koloman MoserKoloman Moser
Otto WagnerOtto Wagner

Movements

The Vienna SecessionThe Vienna Secession
The Wiener WerkstätteThe Wiener Werkstätte
SymbolismSymbolism
Art NouveauArt Nouveau

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]