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Biography Of Gustav Klimt

guatvklimtpictureGustav Klimt was a controversial figure in his time. His work was constantly criticized for being too sensual and erotic, and his symbolism too deviant. Today, they stand out as the more important paintings ever to come out of Vienna.


Birth of Gustav Klimt in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria. His father is a gold engraver but unsuccessful in business. The family lives in poverty.


At the age of 14, Klimt enters the Vienna Public Art School. Noticed for his talents, he receives his first commissions while studying.


Klimt, his brother Ernst and Franz Matsch form the Känstlercompanie (Company of Artists) and start a productive cooperation. Works for theaters, churches and museums were ordered by several patrons.


Klimt executes mural decorations for staircases at the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. He contributes for a series called Allegories and Emblems. Its success leads to a second large order, containing Klimt’s painting “Tragedy”, announcing all of his stylistic characteristics: gold paint, areas of detail and areas of abstract space, symbolism, the female figure.


He becomes a member of the Co-operative Society of Austrian Artists.


Death of his father and brother Ernst. He moves to a larger studio.


Klimt and Matsch are commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the new University of Vienna. Due to a falling-out between Klimt and Matsch, the works are greatly delayed. The series of paintings, “Philosophy”, “Medecine” and “Jurisprudence”, provoked widespread controversy. He is never to accept a public commission again.


As Klimt feels his integrety as an artist is under threat, The Secession Mouvement is formed, focusing on exposure for young, unconventional artists, bringing quality foreign art to Vienna and publishing a magazine.


The first large exhibition of foreign work organized by the Secession attracts 57.000 visitors. “Ver Sacrum”, its monthly magazine, starts to publish. The Secession completes its own exhibition building and rapidly becomes the leading Artist Association in Vienna. Klimt will remain at the center of Secession activity until 1905.


Klimt paints “Sonia Knips” at the Dumba Palace Music Room.


His first painting for the University of Vienna, “Philosophy” is exhibited unfinished at the Paris World Fair and wins the Grand Prix. He paints the portrait of Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann.



Klimt paints “Medicine” and “Judith and Holofernes”


In the Secession Building, the statue of Max Klinger, “Beethoven”, is accompanied by Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze”. He also paints the portrait of Emilie Flöge in a dress that she designed.


Klimt travels to Ravenna and Florence and paints “Jurisprudence”.


Klimt paints “Water Snakes” and is commissioned to paint the series of mosaic murals (1905-1909) for the Palais Stoclet, an opulent private mansion in Brussels.


Several artists and Klimt himself resign from Secession and form a new association called “Kunstschau” (Art Show). The artist paints “The three ages of Woman”.


The works “Danae”, a very erotic work depicting the conception of Perseus by Zeus, and “Adele Bloch-Bauer” are painted.



Klimt paints “The Kiss”, in which he celebrates the attraction of the sexes.


Klimt paints “Judith II” and “Hope” in which he juxtaposes the promise of new life with the destroying force of death.


Klimt travels to Rome and Florence, paints “Death and Life”.


Klimt paints “The Virgin”.



Klimt paints “Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt”.



Klimt paints “Baby” (unfinished). Paints “Schönbrunn Landscape” among other landscape scenes.


On January 11th, Klimt suffers a stroke in his apartment and dies on February 6th from pneumonia.