The Controversy of Klimt
Gustav Klimt founded an art movement called Secession in Austria. He was its president from 1897 until 1905. One of his most famous paintings, the Kiss, is a noteworthy example of the Secession Art Nouveau movement.
Born the son of a Viennese engraver, Gustav Klimt studied art at the Vienna School of Decorative Arts. He and his brother Ernst as well as another fellow graduate opened their own art studio in 1882. Here they specialized in murals, making a lot of money painting for museums, theaters and other public facilities.
Gustav Klimt was a very ornamental artist, as evidenced by his exquisite Expectation, Fulfillment, the Kiss and The Virgin – magnificent paintings. He and the other Secessionist painters favored contours and organic lines in their paintings. Gold and silver are prominently displayed in the works of Gustav Klimt, certainly an influence of his father who engraved those two metals.
Most of Gustav Klimt’s works were considered scandalous, because they were erotic, sexual and contained nudes. The Kiss, for which he is best known, was first displayed in 1908 and, while much admired, was still considered highly controversial.
Traditional canvas paintings were uncommon for Gustav Klimt’s work. He primarily painted murals, designed posters and illustrated magazines. In 1900 he was commissioned for the next three years by Vienna University to create ceiling murals using not only paints but also glass, metal and ceramics.
In 1905 Gustav Klimt’s life took another new turn, and his work turned to jewelry and fashion.
Klimt continued painting landscapes and portraits of private patrons of the Vienna elite until his death in 1918.
Recently, a Gustav Klimt portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer from that era was sold for a record $135 million, the highest sum ever paid for a single painting.