Gustav Klimt’s home city was the fascinating turn-of-the century Vienna of the Belle époque. With its two million inhabitants, the city was the fourth largest in Europe, and it witnessed a cultural flowering unparalleled eslsewhere. Artists and intellectuals developed enormous creativity, torn as they were between reality and illusion, between traditional and the modern. With inhabitants such as Sigmund Freud, Otto Wagner, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schönberg, the city was a “laboratory of the apocalypse”, a late bloom, a last crative tumult before its decline.
It was out of this “laboratory” that Klimt’s art grew, and his visions were at once filled to the brim with life and only too conscious of death: the traditional and the modern were dovetailed with one another. It is fascinating to look at the sensuality of his drawing, the kaleidoscopic composition of his works, the wealth of ornamentation, and to attempt to unlock the secrets of his pictures. Above all, the viewer is held captive by Klimt’s central theme, the beauty of women.
The son of an engraver, Klimt studied at the National School of Applied Arts in Vienna. In 1882, he opened an atelier with his brother Ernst and a fellow student, and in the next 15 years he has produced murals for public buildings. In 1890, Klimt painted the auditorium of the old Burgtheater with an almost photographic precision and won the Imperial Prize. From that moment, Klimt became increasingly experimental.
He used, in his experiments, elements of the time with classic elements less appreciated at such as elements of Japanese , Chinese, Egyptian and Mycenaean arts.
In 1897, Klimt and other notable artists resigned Viennese Academy of Arts and founded the Association of Austrian Artists who became known as the Vienna Secession, he was the first president of the group.
The Secession opposed the idea of oppression against classicism. The group became the Viennese version of art nouveau. The first exhibition of the artists was in 1898, and in 1900, Klimt won the Grand Prize at the Paris World Fair.
In 1905, he was discouraged with the Secession realizing that no longer agreed with the group’s original ideals. This year marks the beginning of the golden era of the artist which influences were European avant-garde movements, English painters such as Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Japanese art, the Byzantine frescoes and mosaics he has seen in churches Ravenna, Italy.
His drawings exuberantly intertwined in gold and silver, the kaleidoscopic colors, the movement, the erotic elements and symbolism continued evolving in his genius. In this process, Klimt departed from reality, staying in the occult and spiritual, a real trascendental journey into the human anatomy.
Faced with a society in which death and sexuality were regarded as elements of chaos and therefore inadmissibles, Klimt seemed from this time on to be destined more than ever to be engaged in a arduous , feverish, turbulent and fearful quest, in search of answers to the ultimate questions of human existence.
Gustav Klimt was not gregarious: he was a man of few words, who preferred solitude to society (as me).His garden not only inspired his flower paintings, but also was the wellspring from which he drew strength for all his work.
If there is any artist whose “whole art is indeed erotic”, then that artist is Gustav Klimt. Woman is his all-absorbing theme: he paints her naked or glorious adorned, moving, sitting, standing, lying, in all poses, with all gestures, even the most intimate… Ready to kiss and be kissed, in ecstasy, in voluptuous expectation…like rodin, with whom shares this passion to portray woman in all her moods.
Klimt died before the end of World War 1 in 1918, his work was a scandal in its time and created an erotic introduction to modern sexuality, which expressionism and surrealism made extensive use later. A visionary who never abandoned his ideals and esthetic, even with tough criticism, an inspiration to move forward in a world that is still resistant to new visions of life.