Gustav Klimt

1862 Vienna - 1918 Vienna

Gustav Klimt was born on 14 July 1862 in Baumgarten near Vienna. As one of the most famous representatives of Jugendstil and founder of the Vienna Secession, Klimt is one of the most important Austrian painters. Even during his lifetime, Klimt is regarded as one of the most controversial but at the same time most popular artists of the century. Klimt died on 6 February 1918 in Vienna. In the years 1876 until 1883 Klimt studied at the Vienna School of Applied Art with professors Ferdinand Laufberger and Julius Viktor Berger. After completing his studies he established a studio together with his brother Ernst and Franz Matsch. From 1885 onwards they painted for theatres in the Monarchy numerous wall and ceiling paintings, of which those in the Burgtheater in Vienna merit special emphasis. These were followed in 1891 with paintings in the staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. At that time Klimt was already an esteemed painter and his oil paintings and drawings clearly demonstrated the influence of Historicism. In 1892 his brother Ernst died which led to the dissolution of the artist company. As Klimt had already attracted attention with the paintings in the spandrels and between the columns at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, he was awarded in 1894 the commission to paint the faculty pictures in the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. In 1897 the artist association “Secession” was founded and Klimt was appointed their first president. The presentation of Klimt’s first faculty picture Philosophy in 1900 unleashed a tremendous scandal. As Medicine (1901) and Jurisprudence (1903) also did not receive appropriate acknowledgement from the commissioners of the paintings, Klimt repurchased the faculty pictures in 1905. In the same year differences of opinion caused him to leave the Secession. The works Adele Bloch-Bauer and The Kiss, which were shown at the Kunstschau exhibition of 1908, marked the pinnacle of Klimt’s ‘Golden Style’. International exhibitions led to him gaining recognition abroad. In addition to his portraits, in the last ten years of his life he devoted himself increasingly to landscapes.


Alice Strobl, "Gustav Klimt, Zeichnungen und Gemälde", Salzburg 1962; Werner Hofmann, "Gustav Klimt und die Wiener Jahrhundertwende", Salzburg 1977; Alice Strobl, "Gustav Klimt. Die Zeichnungen (Catalogue Raisonné)", vols. I - IV, Salzburg 1980 - 1989; "Wien um 1900. Kunst und Kultur", Vienna 1985; "Gustav Klimt", Parnass special edition, 17/2000; "Gustav Klimt - Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde", Salzburg 1975