Monday, September 28, 2009

K: Gustav Klimt

“I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word, especially if I have to say something about myself or my work. 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." Gustav Klimt (

I was visiting the home of a friend of my brother. He wanted me to do a portrait of his wife and children for a Christmas present and was showing me some photographs to use as reference. I noticed that he and his wife had some old artwork and he showed me around. In his dining room, he had a Klimt painting. He almost dismissed it as we moved by, but I was stopped in my tracks.

That’s the effect this artist’s work has. It is so unique and powerful and distinctively his.

Gustav Klimt was born in 1862 in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria. His father was a gold engraver but unsuccessful in business so the family lived in poverty ( According to (which has a great multimedia experience) “from 1900 to 1918 Gustav Klimt dominated the art scene in the capital of the empire of Austro-Hungary.”

He attended the School of Arts and Crafts where his style was hyperrealistic and he learned many diverse skills and techniques. In 1899, he was commissioned to paint a mural for a rich industrialist. He painted “Shubert at the Piano.” Following that he was commissioned to decorate the Great Hall of the University where he presented “Philosophy” in 1900. Congress commissioned a poll where Klimt was accused of creating pornography in the images.

In response to this criticism, he painted “Goldfish” a painting where the main figure, a naked woman, dominates the canvas with her backside to the viewer. Apparently he intended to title this painting “to My Critics.”

At that time in Austria, all artists who wished to make a living belonged to the Cooperative Society of Artists, a very conservative organization. Klimt felt this society was keeping young artists from progressing and pulled away, forming The Secession. A poster of Pallas Athene, the Secession’s protectress, rendered in his now trademark style announced the first exhibition.

According to the website, “Klimt’s work exemplifies the encounter between the old art…and the new art of the XXth century. One of his greatest accomplishments was…the introduction of sexuality in art.”

Klimt was able to change and adjust his style to the times. He was even a successful landscape painter in an effort to fit into the Impressionist style.

I am inspired by his ability to go from a very literal artist to a very expressive one.

1 comment:

  1. hi,dave,you posted very interesting informations about art and artists,i will come regullary back for more.
    Klimt is also by far my favorit artist-from my point of wiew,no other painter was abble to capture''the woman''on her beauty,mystery and sensuality as he did in his paintings.beside this I´m amazed about his fabulous power in integrating different planes in a very unexpected but harmonic way and creating this feel of perpetual mooving in the composition!A genius with big ''G''
    Btw,being romanian,I had the chance to admire some of his very early(and not very known)work on the Peles Castle in Sinaia City-Romania