Gustav Klimt Fact 1: Gustav Klimt was born on July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten in Austria-Hungary.
Gustav Klimt Fact 2: He was an Austrian symbolist painter credited for his imaginative paintings, sketches and murals. He is considered one of the most prominent artists of the Vienna Secession movement.
Gustav Klimt Fact 3: His father was a gold engraver called Ernst Klimt and his mother's name was Anna Klimt. Gustav was the second eldest child in the family; he had two brothers and four sisters. His brothers, Ernst and George, were younger than himself and they also showed artistic talent from a young age.
Gustav Klimt Fact 4: Much of his childhood was spent living in poverty stricken areas as his family were very poor. At the age of fourteen, he joined the Vienna Public Arts School to study architectural painting.
Gustav Klimt Fact 5: His artistic talent was immediately noticed at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts and he was quickly consigned to produce artwork for public viewing. He studied at the school until 1883.
Gustav Klimt Fact 6: He was inspired by the work of a 19th century history painter called Hans Makart (1840-1884). Hans Makart was an influential artist who was highly regarded in Vienna at the time with one of his main followers being Gustav Klimt who was captivated by his paintings.
Gustav Klimt Fact 7: His younger brother Ernst joined the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts in 1877. Along with a friend called Franz Matsch, the siblings began producing artwork together. After receiving numerous commissions for their designs, they became known as the 'Company of Artists'. They were asked to do work for theatres, museums and churches, and their creations became very popular amongst patrons.
Gustav Klimt Fact 8: Symbolism became a prominent style that Gustav Klimt began using after he was commissioned to create a piece of artwork for the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The piece that he created featured a female figure painted in a style which was perceived as eye-catching and exotic.
Gustav Klimt Fact 9: Gustav Klimt was a symbolist painter whose main primary subject was the female body. During his lifetime, some of his major artwork received criticism for conveying an erotic and alluring nature. His work has since received the recognition it deserved and he is now seen as one of the most prominent symbolist painters of the Vienna Secession movement.
Gustav Klimt Fact 10: He became a member of the Co-operative society of Austrian artists in 1891 and moved to a larger studio, where he could focus on creating more artwork, following the deaths of his father and brother in 1892.
Gustav Klimt Fact 11: Franz Matsch and Gustav Klimt were commissioned to create artwork in 1893 for the ceilings of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. The two artists disagreed over their design ideas and the approach they should take towards painting the ceiling. Their artistic styles were different and this led to many disagreements which slowed down their progression.
Gustav Klimt Fact 12: Gustav Klimt presented three paintings to the University of Vienne in the early 1900s: Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence. His controversial pieces of artwork, also known as Faculty Paintings, were never displayed at the University as they depicted nudity which was met with great criticism by the people of Vienna.
Gustav Klimt Fact 13: The locals were disgraced by the eroticism of the three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence, created by Gustav Klimt for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. They found his artwork unacceptable and little more than pornographic. The paintings were destroyed in 1945 by retreating Schutzstaffel forces.
Gustav Klimt Fact 14: Despite local criticism, his first painting presented to the University of Vienna, Philosophy, was awarded a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris, France. Gustav Klimt described his painting which depicted both men and women as, "a group of figures, the beginning of life, fruition, decay. On the right, the globe as mystery. Emerging below, a figure of light: knowledge."
Gustav Klimt Fact 15: Following the criticism he received over his paintings for the Great Hall of the University of Vienna, Gustav Klimt refused any further public commissions. He feared that his reputation was fast decreasing and he decided to begin the Secession Movement as a result. He later claimed that 'all artwork is erotic'.
Gustav Klimt Fact 16: He was the first president of the Vienna Secession, also referred to as the Union of Austrian Artists. The Vienna Secession can be described a group formed by Austrian artists, painters, sculptors and architects who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists. The group was founded in 1897 by Gustav Klimt along with other artists including Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser and Max Kurzweil. The Vienna Secession movement earned great recognition.Gustav Klimt Fact 17: Many of his paintings took on an erotic and sexual nature, and later in life, became more accepted, particularly outside of Vienna. Gustav Klimt also took on different art forms. He produced some marvellous landscape pieces as well as figurative paintings. During his travels to Florence and Rome in 1911, he produced some major pieces of artwork including The Bride, The Virgin, and Death and Life. Death and Live earned first prize in the world exhibitions held in Rome.
Gustav Klimt Fact 18: The Golden Phase for Gustav Klimt received a positive reaction as opposed to the criticism he'd received earlier on in his career. He produced most of the paintings from the Golden Phase with the use of gold leaf. Gold leaf can be described as a metal leaf produced by gold that has been made into thin sheets as a result of goldbeating.
Gustav Klimt Fact 19: Some of the masterpieces produced during Gustav Klimt's Golden Phase include Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–08). The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is also known as the Lady in Gold and is considered the most influential painting of his Golden Period. Adele Bloch-Bauer was in fact a patron and friend of Gustav Klimt.
Gustav Klimt Fact 20: He died on February 6, 1918 as a result of pneumonia following a stroke. His body was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna.
Influence & Legacy of Gustav Klimt:
Gustav Klimt was a famous symbolist artist who was renown for creating controversial figurative paintings which strongly influenced the Vienna Secession movement. His artwork gained greater credibility after his death, and he has since been considered one of the most prominent Austrian artists of his time.
List of Famous Works by Gustav Klimt:
Der Blinde (The Blind Man) 1896 *** Stiller Weiher (Tranquil Pond) 1899 *** Philosophie 1899–1907 *** Medicine 1899–1907 *** Jurisprudence 1899–1907 *** Judith and the Head of Holofernes 1901 *** Portrait of Hermine Gallia 1904 *** The Three Ages of Woman 1905 *** Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo and Her Son c.1545 *** Portrait of Fritza Riedler 1906 *** Danaë 1907 *** Hope II 1907–08 *** Mäda Gertrude Primavesi 1912 *** Eugenia Primavesi 1913–14 *** Avenue in Schloss Kammer Park 1912 *** Girlfriends or Two Women Friends 1916–17