Gustav Klimt is one of the brightest representatives of Viennese Art Nouveau. His paintings, created during the “golden period”, are endlessly loved in world art and are familiar even to those who are not at all interested in painting.
We decided to recall a popular artist and tell you a few facts about his life that you may not have heard.
- Gustav Klimt was born on the outskirts of Vienna in the family of a jeweler and a failed musician. He was the second of 7 children – 3 boys and 4 girls. Interestingly, all 3 sons of Klimt Sr. eventually became artists.
- When Gustav’s father and brother died, financial responsibility for the family fell on his shoulders. This left an imprint on his artistic views and individual style.
- Before getting carried away by Art Nouveau, Klimt learned academic painting. He was educated at a Vienna art and craft school, specializing in architectural painting. And, unlike many young artists, he agreed with the principles of conservative academic education.
- At the end of the 19th century, Gustav Klimt became one of the founders of the Vienna Secession, an exhibition and creative association of young artists.
- In the early 1890s, Klimt met the Austrian fashion designer Emilia Flöge – she became a companion of the artist until the end of his days.
- Once, Klimt received an order for 3 paintings that were supposed to decorate the ceiling of the University of Vienna. The allegorical images of Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were completed in 6 years – and fell into disfavor of critics and society. Everyone considered them extremely obscene. As a result, the work was not exhibited in the main building of the educational institution. This was the last public order of the artist.
- For the most part, we know Klimt as a portrait painter. But it turns out that he has a lot of landscapes. In the 1890s, he annually vacationed with the Flege family on Lake Attersee. It was there that he painted many of his landscapes. At that time, the artist was exclusively fond of this genre of painting, and the famous “The Kiss” was still far away.
- Gustav Klimt had an introverted nature and led a simple lifestyle, had little contact with other artists. Moreover, he was very famous and could choose from orders only what was actually interesting to him.
- Klimt never painted self-portraits. He explained it this way: “I never painted self-portraits. I am much less interested in myself as a subject of the picture than other people, especially women. There is nothing special about me. I am an artist who writes day after day from morning to night. Anyone who wants to know something about me should carefully consider my paintings.”
- For his love of the golden background and the manner of writing, resembling a mosaic, Klimt was called “a stranger from Byzantium.”
- The main objects of Klimt’s paintings were women. And if men appeared on them, their faces were hidden.
- In the most famous painting “The Kiss”, the viewer does not see the face of a man. Perhaps the picture depicts the artist himself with Emilia. The canvas belongs to the “golden period” of the artist: then Klimt worked a lot with real leaf gold.
- “The Kiss” was sold before the artist finished it. The buyer was the Belvedere Gallery. The amount amounted to 25 thousand crowns (approximately $240K). This is 5 times more than the price for the most expensive Austrian painting sold earlier.
- The artist was never married, but he is credited with the paternity of many illegitimate children. So, for example, the Austrian cameraman and director Gustav Uchicki insisted that he was the son of Gustav Klimt. His mother once worked as a servant in the house of a painter.
- Another famous Klimt painting “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” is called the “Austrian Mona Lisa”. It depicts the daughter of the Director-General of the Vienna Banking Union.
- The artist had the same affection as the one he had for women only for cats. The critic Arthur Rossler described how he came to the workshop to Klimt and was met with 8 or 9 meowing and purring cats. When the guest asked why Gustav gives them such freedom, he replied: “It doesn’t matter if they crumple or tear a few sheets— they piss on others, and don’t you know, that’s the best fixative.” (actually, it is not).
- And yet, despite the artist’s deep interest in the opposite sex, Emilia Flöge always remained Klimt’s main muse. When the artist was struck by a stroke, his last words were: “Send for Emilia.”