Google+ Gustav Klimt « Francoise Cariou

Gustav Klimt

 

francoisecariou.com

Gustav Klimt is without a doubt one of the true originals in the World of art. Klimt’s style and subject matter was 360° away from the French Impressionist and Post Impressionist Painters. Frankly erotic depictions of the Female body were the centre of Klimt’s creation, and what he is most popularly remembered for today.

However, on balance, Klimt had an enormous range. Consider that he began his career painting murals. He was also adept at sculpture. From the standpoint of Art History Klimt is acknowledged as the “Father” of Symbolism. (I know, every new art form seems to end in an “ism” doesn’t it?)

Recently I had the privilege to visit the Klimt  Musem in Vienna. An incredible experience for anyone interested in Art.  And, of course, especially for myself as an artist. (Vienna is worth visiting even if you’re NOT interested in Art!)

Klimt’s personal life seems to be as “uninhibited” as his art. He fathered 14 children. not all with the same Woman. (as you might have guessed!) One of his most widely publicized reponses to the erotic subject matter of his work was: “All Art is erotic.” (tell that to the Impressionists!)

There are many sites related to Klimt and his art, but most of them borrow heavily from Wikipedia.  So, for the complete information on this incredible artist, best to go straight to the source, n’est ce pas?

 

“Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austriansymbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, muralssketches, and other art objects. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body;[1] his works are marked by a frank eroticism.

Early life and educationLife and work

Egon SchieleKlimt in a light Blue Smock, 1913

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children—three boys and four girls.[3] 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 lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied architectural painting until 1883. He revered Vienna’s foremost history painter of the time, Hans Makart. Klimt readily accepted the principles of a conservative training; his early work may be classified as academic. 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 that they called the “Company of Artists”. They also helped their teacher in painting murals in theKunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on theRingstraße, including a successful series of “Allegories and Emblems”.

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.[4] He also became an honorary member of the University of Munichand the University of Vienna. In 1892 both Klimt’s father and brother Ernst died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father’s and brother’s families. The tragedies affected his artistic vision as well, and soon he would veer toward a new personal style.

In the early 1890s, Klimt met Emilie Louise Flöge, who, notwithstanding the artist’s relationships with other women, was to be his companion until the end of his life. Whether his relationship with Flöge was sexual or not is debated. 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 that period Klimt fathered at least fourteen children.

[edit]Vienna secession years

He became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (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 declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—NaturalistsRealists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group’s symbol was Pallas Athena, theGreek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—and Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, PhilosophyMedicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, and were called “pornographic“. Klimt had transformed traditionalallegory and symbolism into a new language that was more overtly sexual, and hence, more disturbing to some. The public outcry came from all quarters—political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result, the paintings (seen in gallery below)were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist.

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.”

A section of the Beethoven Frieze, at Secession Building,Vienna

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. Intended for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it did not go on display until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler, with whom Klimt had a respectful relationship.

During this period Klimt did not confine himself to public commissions. Beginning in the late 1890s he took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores ofAttersee and painted many of his landscapes there. These landscapes constitute the only genre aside from figure-painting that seriously interested Klimt. In recognition of his intensity, the locals called him “Waldschrat”, Forest Demon.

Klimt’s Attersee paintings are of a number and quality so as to merit a 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 while looking through a telescope.

Golden phase and critical success

The Kiss 1907–08, oil on canvas,Österreichische Galerie BelvedereVienna

Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success. Many of his paintings from this period include 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).

Klimt travelled little, but trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist that was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age. Klimt’s contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative works, and as he publicly stated, “probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament.”

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.

As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was somewhat cloistered, 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. His painting method was very deliberate and painstaking at times and he required lengthy sittings by his subjects. Although very active sexually, he kept his affairs discreet and he avoided personal scandal.

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 1901 Herman Bahr wrote, in his Speech on Klimt: “Just as only a lover can reveal to a man what life means to him and develop its innermost significance, I feel the same about these paintings.”

Here you can read more about Symbolist Painter Gustav Klimt.