Friday, July 28, 2017

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt: The Kiss

Gustav Klimt (14 july 1862-6. february 1918) was an Austrian painter. He was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children—three boys and four girls. His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt's younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt.

Klimt, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Klimt lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied architectural painting until 1883. In 1877 his brother, Ernst, who, like his father, would become an engraver, also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and their friend, Franz Matsch, began working together and by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team they called the "Company of Artists". They also helped their teacher in painting murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in
Vienna.  Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstrasse including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

Pallas Athene or Minerva
Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Secession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group's periodical, Ver Sacrum("Sacred Spring"). He remained with the Secession until 1908. The goals of the group were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the works of the best foreign artists to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase the work of members. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek  Goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

Klimt was one of the most prominent members of the Art Noveau movement in Vienna and he had an enormous importance to the following generation (like Oskar Kokoschka.) Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches and other objets d'art. Among the artists of the Vienna Secession, Klimt was the most influenced by Japanese art and its methods.

detail from Medicine, Hygeia
In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. The three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, and were called pornographic. As a result, the paintings were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945.

His Nuda Veritas (1899) defined his bid to further "shake up" the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad."

Klimt, landscape with birch trees
Beginning in the late 1890s he took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores of Attersee and painted many of his landscapes there. These landscapes constitute the only genre aside from figure painting that seriously interested Klimt. Klimt's Attersee paintings are of sufficient number and quality as to merit separate appreciation. Formally, the landscapes are characterized by the same refinement of design and emphatic patterning as the figural pieces. Deep space in the Attersee works is flattened so efficiently to a single plane, that it is believed that Klimt painted them by using a telescope

Nuda Veritas
In 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in the Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892 Klimt's father and brother Ernst both died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father's and brother's families. The tragedies also affected his artistic vision and soon he would move towards a new personal style. Characteristic of his style at the end of the 19th century is the inclusion of Nuda Veritas(Naked Truth) as a symbolic figure in some of his works, including Ancient Greece and Egypt (1891), Pallas Athene (1898) and Nuda Veritas (1899). Historians believe that Klimt with the nuda veritas denounced both the policy of the Habsburgs and the Austrian society, which ignored all political and social problems of that time.

Klimt: Emilie Flöge
In the early 1890s Klimt met Austrian fashion Emilie Louise Flöge  (a sibling of his sister-in-law) who was to be his companion until the end of his life. His painting, The Kiss (1907–08), is thought to be an image of them as lovers. He designed many costumes she created and modeled in his works. During this period Klimt fathered at least fourteen children

In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven frieze for the Fourteenth Vienna Secessionist Exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger. The frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it was not displayed again until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler.

Klimt: from Palais Stochlet

rips to Venice and Ravenna with their beautiful mosaics most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine  imagery. He collaborated in 1904 with other artists on the Palais Stochlet, one of the grandest monuments of the Art Noveau age. Klimt's contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative works.

In 1905, Klimt created a painted portrait of Margarete Wittgenstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein's sister , on the occasion of her marriage. Then, between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing he had designed.

Klimt: Sonia Knips

Early in his career he was a successful painter of archictectural decorations in a conventionel manner but he developed a more personal style and his work became the subject of controversy especially caused by the paintings he completed around 1900 for the ceiling of the great hall of the University of Vienna,which were critisized as pornographic.

Klimt: Judith

He achieved a new success with the paintings of his golden phase . Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success. Many of his paintings from this period included gold leaf. Klimt had previously used gold in his Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–08).

In 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the World Exhibitions in Rome.

Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In 2006, the 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch Bauer I,
Klimt: Adele Bloch-Bauer
was purchased for the Neue Galerie New York by Ronald Lauder, reportedly for US $135 million, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy with a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million). In spring 2006 the Adele Bloch-Bauer-painting was at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna where it was considered a central part of the National Cultural Heritage, but a court of arbitration decided that the painting of Adele Bloch Bauer belonged to her niece Maria Altmann, whose jewish family were deprived of the painting by the Nazis during WWII.

Klimt: Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter
On August 7, 2006, Christie's auction house announced it was handling the sale of the remaining four works by Klimt that were recovered by Maria Altmann and her co-heirs after their long legal battle against Austria . Maria Altmann's fight to regain her family's paintings has been the subject of a number of documentary films, including Adele's Wish. Her struggle also became the subject of the dramatic film The Woman in Gold, a movie inspired by Stealing Klimt, the documentary featuring Maria Altmann herself. The portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer II was sold at auction in November 2006 for $88 million, the third-highest priced piece of art at auction at the time. The Apple Tree I (ca. 1912) sold for $33 million, Birch Forest (1903) sold for $40.3 million, and Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter (1916) sold for $31 million. Collectively, the five restituted paintings netted more than $327 million. The painting Litzlberg am Attersee was auctioned for $40.4 million at Sotheby's in November 2011.

As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was devoted to his art, family, and little else except the Secessionist Movement. He avoided café society and seldom socialized with other artists. Klimt's fame usually brought patrons to his door and he could afford to be highly selective. Klimt wrote little about his vision or his methods. He wrote mostly postcards to Flöge and kept no diary. In a rare writing called "Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait", he states "I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures."

In 1915 Anna, his mother, died. Klimt died three years later in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the worldwide influenza epidemic of that year. He was buried at the Hietzinger cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna. Numerous paintings by him were left unfinished

The city of Vienna, Austria had many special exhibitions commemorating the 150th anniversary of Klimt's birth in 2012.

images from Wikipedia.

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