What do you know about Gustav Klimt? Of course, his gold oil paintings look at you here and there from notebooks, postcards, and magnets on your fridge. But what makes this artist so recognizable? Let’s take a closer look at some facts about his life that you might not have known about. Also don’t miss the Gustav Klimt’s masterpieces in klimtgallery.org.
1. Founded the Vienna Secession
In 1897, Klimt created art movements in support of young artists. They sought to move away from the academic style and wrote using unusual techniques. The goal was to attract the best foreign artists to Vienna. Also to make the works of these artists popular, this group published Ver Sacrum magazine. The Vienna Secession brought Klimt himself and a group of innovative artists universal recognition and creative freedom. This group combined naturalistic, realistic, and symbolic styles. Also, this movement was supported by the government and they were allocated a plot of urban land so that they could build an exhibition hall there. The motto of the group was “Each time has its own art, each art has its own freedom.” The Vienna Secession group chose Athena Pallada as its symbol because she was the personification of justice, wisdom, and art.
In 1900, Klimt had an order from the University of Vienna. He created the allegorical works of Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence, known as Faculty. However, critics and the customer sharply criticized the paintings, calling them pornographic. This was the last public order that the artist took. After that, he denied social activities.
Later paintings were acquired by the patron August Lederer.
2. The golden period
This period in the work of Klimt marked the middle of his creative career and made him especially famous and financially successful. Prior to this, the artist painted mainly with oil and created many large-scale paintings. Klimt’s father was a jeweler and engraver and taught Gustav how to handle such delicate material as gold leaf.
Klimt was inspired by the Byzantine mosaics to create his golden masterpieces. He visited Venice and Ravenna, which were famous for this kind of mosaic with golden specks. This period includes such famous works as The Palace of Athens (1898) and Judith (1901), Beethoven Frieze (1901), Art Nouveau paragon the Palais Stoclet (1904). But the most famous masterpiece was Kiss (1907-1908).
When Klimt was over 30 years old, he became interested in landscapes. His favorite place to create landscapes was Lake Attersee. He often came there during the summer holidays. Landscapes make up almost a fourth of all his works. Critics for a long time deprived Klimt of the landscapes, but nevertheless, these paintings are recognized as the best part of his masterpieces. They are light and airy in their execution. Klimt loved to paint fields strewn with flowers, mosaics of orchards, birch groves. A characteristic feature of his landscapes was a significantly understated or inflated horizon.
His paintings became not only works of fine art, but they could also be attributed to applied art. Thus, Klimt combines these two genres. The profession of his father, who was a jeweler and directed his son to study applied art at the Artistic and Industrial School, where young Klimt was fond of mosaic, greatly influenced the artist’s style.
The landscape of Farm Garden has become a sensation in the art world. Klimt painted this canvas in 1907 and a year later exhibited it at the Kunstschau historical exhibition in Vienna. Many argue that this work was caused by the impression of Klimt after visiting the Van Gogh exhibition.
In 2017, the Farm Garden landscape canvas was purchased for $ 59 million.
4. Was a lover of women
It is known that Klimt was never married. However, he was a famous heartbreaker and he always had many fans and mistresses. After the artist’s death, at least 14 people claimed to be his heirs. It is said that Klimt could have from three to forty illegitimate children. He recognized four of his possible children. According to rumors, the artist had sexual relations with all the women whose portraits he painted.
Despite Klimt’s inconsistency in relations, he remained in contact with one single woman until the end of his days. It was Emilia Flöge. It is not known whether they had sexual intercourse, but a strong spiritual one is a hundred percent. She was the sister of Ernst’s wife, the brother of the artist. After the death of his brother, Gustav became the guardian of his daughter and often met with the Flöges. He even began to help the sisters in their business. They opened the fashion house and Gustav Klimt helped with painting the scenery for the demonstration hall. So, Emilia and Gustav became almost inseparable. Many biographers doubt that they could have a romantic relationship. Nevertheless, the last Klimt’s wish before his death was a request to bring Emilia to him.
5. Many of his paintings were burned
Over the course of his life, philanthropist August Leder gathered an impressive collection of works by Klimt. In the 1930s, the Nazi authorities nationalized all the paintings. Until the end of the war, they were kept in the Immerhof castle. But during their retreat, the SS troops set fire to the castle, thereby completely destroying the art heritage stored there. Among those paintings was a series of faculty paintings by Klimt. Only rare sketches and black and white photographs of these paintings in poor quality remained.
Ceiling Paintings, Medicine, the University of Vienna