The Gustav Klimt Biography

Gustav Klimt Biography

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Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918)


Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria, the second of seven children. His father (Ernst Klimt) was an engraver and was married to Anna Klimt (nee Finster).


He was educated at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule) in the years 1879-1883, and received training as an architectural decorator. He began his professional career painting interior murals in large public buildings on the Ringstrasse. Klimt was also an honorary member of the Universities of Munich and Vienna.

His work is distinguished by the elegant gold or colored decoration, often phallic in shape that conceals the more erotic positions of the drawings he based many of his paintings on. This can be seen in Judith I (1901), and in The Kiss (1907), and especially in "Danae". Art historians note an eclectic range of influences contributing to Klimt's distinct style, including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations. Klimt was also inspired by the engravings of Albrecht Dürer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese Ukiyo-e. His works are also characterized by a rejection of earlier naturalistic styles, and the use of symbols or symbolic elements to convey psychological ideas and emphasize the "freedom" of art from traditional culture.

Klimt was one of the founding members of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) and of the periodical Ver Sacrum. He left the movement in 1908.  Klimt took annual summer holidays on the shores of Attersee and painted some of the landscapes he saw there.

He died in Vienna on February 6, 1918 of a stroke and was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery, Vienna. Numerous paintings were left unfinished.

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