Gustav Klimt, Austrian (1862 - 1918)

Gustav 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.

1862


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

1876
At the age of 14, Klimt enters the Vienna Public Art School. Noticed for his talents, he receives his first commissions while studying.

1883
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.

1886-1892
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.

1891
He becomes a member of the Co-operative Society of Austrian Artists.

1892
Death of his father and brother Ernst. He moves to a larger studio.

1893
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.


1897
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.

1898-1905
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.

1898
Klimt paints "Sonia Knips" at the Dumba Palace Music Room.

1900
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.

1901
Klimt paints "Medicine" and "Judith and Holofernes"

1902
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.



1903
Klimt travels to Ravenna and Florence and paints "Jurisprudence".

1904
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.

1905
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".

1907
The works "Danae", a very erotic work depicting the conception of Perseus by Zeus, and "Adele Bloch-Bauer" are painted.



1908
Klimt paints "The Kiss", in which he celebrates the attraction of the sexes.

1909
Klimt paints "Judith II" and "Hope" in which he juxtaposes the promise of new life with the destroying force of death.

1911
Klimt travels to Rome and Florence, paints "Death and Life".

1913
Klimt paints "The Virgin".



1914
Klimt paints "Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt".

1917
Klimt paints "Baby" (unfinished). Paints "Schönbrunn Landscape" among other landscape scenes.

1918
On January 11th, Klimt suffers a stroke in his apartment and dies on February 6th from pneumonia.

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