The name of the famous Austrian painter, graphic artist and book illustrator Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) is inextricably linked with the modernist style, and his paintings are his most vivid manifestation. He was one of the most interesting and popular representatives of the world of fine arts. He never tried to show his exclusiveness to the public. He worked quietly, calmly, did only what he considered necessary, but, meanwhile, there were not many masters in the world who would have been polished by the public, showered with orders and had no material difficulties. This is one of the mysteries of Klimt.
He was born on July 14, 1862, to the family of an engraver and jeweler near Vienna. His mother all her life dreamed of becoming a musician, but she never did it. There were 8 children in the family, Gustav was born the second. His childhood passed in poverty, despite the good profession of the father. There was no permanent job in the country; they had to endure financial difficulties. The family will come out of poverty only after Gustav, having graduated from the School of Decorative Arts, together with his brother Ernst and friend Franz Match, will create a company for performing artistic and decorative works. Gustav learned to draw from his father, but already in 1876, he entered the art and craft school, that his brother also entered in 1877. All three sons of Ernest Klimt became artists in the future.
A Start in Life
The brothers worked together for a long time, decorated theaters with frescoes, various buildings, and museums. In 1888, Gustav received the deserved award “The Golden Cross” from the Emperor Franz Josef himself. Everything went well, and the family business flourished, but in 1892 Gustav Klimt’s father and brother died, and the whole responsibility for providing the family lay on the shoulders of the artist.
In 1894, Klimt received one of the largest orders. It was necessary to write 3 pictures that would decorate the ceiling of the University of Vienna and in 1900, “Philosophy,” “Medicine” and “Jurisprudence” were born. But the society did not accept these pictures, considering them too frank, and they were not exposed at the university. On this canvas, the artist violated all the laws of color and composition, combining incongruous. On his panel, a man appears slave to his nature, obsessed with pain, sex, and death. These pictures shocked and fascinated at the same time. But the scandal ended with the fact that the artist, having borrowed money, returned the university an advance, and left the work for himself. This was Klimt’s last public order. But there were so many orders that it allowed him to repay the debt quickly and in the future not even think about money.
After the outbreak of the scandal, the artist never again had dealt with the state. Artistic freedom was precious to him. He never wrote any more monumental canvases, turning to the creation of small in format allegorical paintings for private collections. He actively worked in the genre of a portrait. In addition, Klimt did a lot of ornamental painting.
After 1898, the artist’s works acquire a more decorative, symbolic aspect. Gustav Klimt was the leader of the Vienna avant-garde of the turn of the century. Being primarily an artist-decorator, he headed the Viennese community of artists-innovators “Secession.” It was a protest movement against aesthetic conservatism and moralizing the previous generation. The best pictures of Klimt are the later portraits of the artist, with their flat, unshadowed surfaces, transparent, mosaic colors and shapes, and sinuous, ornate lines and patterns.
In the paintings of Klimt, two opposing forces are combined. On the one hand, it is the thirst for absolute freedom in the depiction of objects that leads to the play of ornamental forms. These paintings of the artist are in fact symbolic and should be viewed in the context of symbolism as an expression of an unattainable world standing over time and reality. On the other hand, it is the power of perception of nature, whose influence softens the splendor of ornamental in the paintings of the Austrian artist.
Since the beginning of the 1900s, the so-called Golden Period of the artist’s work begins. It is at this time that such pictures as “The Palace of Athena,” “Judith” and others were created. At this time, society adequately perceived the work of Klimt, but this period is called golden not only due to this. In the paintings of the artist, the color of gold, gilding prevailed very often, which was very popular amid fans of his work.
Gustav Klimt led a normal lifestyle, worked hard, and at home. He was a famous artist, orders came to him regularly, but he took only interesting ones. Gustav Klimt and women are a separate chapter in the history of art and not only because he always perpetuated in colors and forms exactly the opposite sex. No one knows for sure how many children Klimt had. It is known only that after the death of the artist, 14 persons wanted to snatch a piece of a golden pie and declared their rights to inheritance, including artistic.
Women posed for him with great pleasure, some of them were prostitutes. Frank eroticism was often present in his paintings. Klimt said that it is not interesting to draw self-portraits; it is much more exciting to draw other personalities, and especially women. Gustav asserted that his paintings could tell a lot about him, it is enough to consider them well.
He also painted several landscapes. They were created when he went to the lake Atterze with his family. This is the only genre that interested the artist, where people did not figure. But in spite of this many scientists find human figures in the landscapes of Klimt, and there is some truth in this.
Gustav Klimt’s biography ended on February 6, 1918. He died of pneumonia, suffering a stroke before it. He was buried in Vienna.