Born July 14, 1862, in Baumgarden, Austria, near Vienna, Gustav Klimt was the second of seven children. His father, Ernst Klimt, was a poor gold engraver originally from Bohemia. His father’s craft would later prove to be a great influence in the highly ornamental style Klimt later adopted.
In 1876, at the age of fourteen, Klimt began studying at the Vienna School of Decorative Arts where he learned a variety of techniques including mosaics and fresco and architectural painting. His early works represented typical Nineteenth Century academic painting that include his murals for the Vienna Burgtheater and the staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. In 1894, after painting the first of several contracted murals for the University of Vienna, Klimt was criticized for his erotic symbolism and accused of using excessive perversion. Along with the death of his father and brother Ernst, the backlash proved a pivotal point in his career in which he chose artistic freedom over public approval. Klimt soon began to collaborate with other artists to revolt the narrow-minded academic views of his critics and began a revolution in artistic style and expression.
In 1897 Gustav Klimt founded the Vienna Seze...
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... though employing a familiar subject (the female form), shows the transformation from busy mosaics with gold embellishments to a brighter palate of colors and the use of stronger, bolder lines. The piece exemplifies his versatility as an artist.
On February 6, 1918, Gustav Klimt died of pneumonia just a month after he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body. Klimt was quoted as saying, “Whoever wants to know something about me – as an artist, the only notable thing—ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.” If we follow his instruction, we will undoubtedly appreciate the passion and creativity he had for every genre of artistic expression. His talent proved limitless while pushing the norms of society and transforming and expanding his craft in ways that exceeded the expectations of all.
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