Klimt, Gustave

Klimt, Gustave Biography

Viennese painter, who was the founder of the Vienna Secession, the Austrian art nouveau movement. After studying at the Vienna School of Decorative Arts, Klimt in 1883 opened an independent studio specializing in the execution of mural paintings. His early work was typical of late 19th-century academic painting.

In 1897 Klimt's mature style emerged, and he founded the Vienna Sezession, a group of painters who revolted against academic art in favour of a highly decorative style similar to Art Nouveau. Soon thereafter he painted three allegorical murals for the ceiling of the University of Vienna auditorium that were violently criticized; the erotic symbolism and pessimism of these works created such a scandal that the murals were rejected. Klimt's most successful works include The Kiss (1908; ?sterreichische Gallery) and a series of portraits he did of fashionable Viennese matrons, such as Frau Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907; ?sterreichische Gallery). In these works he treats the human figure without shadow and heightens the lush sensuality of skin by surrounding it with areas of flat, highly ornamental, and brilliantly composed areas of decoration.

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