Gustav Klimt

Artist

Born: 14 July 1862
Died: 6 February 1918
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria (then Austria-Hungary)
Best known as:

The Viennese painter of 1908's The Kiss

Artist Gustav Klimt, like composer Gustav Mahler, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and big-time thinker Sigmund Freud, was a hotshot of Vienna's glory days as it ushered in the 20th century. Influenced by Impressionism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau, Gustav Klimt founded the Vienna Secession (1898), an avant-garde art movement that included a broad base of artisans and craftsmen as well as painters. Klimt himself was known more for elaborate graphic schemes than "painterly" work -- his most famous piece, The Kiss (1908), shows his distinctive gold-encrusted decorations over a semi-realistic portrait of an embracing couple. He used the framework of myth and allegory and he painted women, in ornate portraits and erotic exposures that were scandalous by Victorian-era standards. He also had time for more than painting -- after his death he was credited with as many as 14 illegitimate children. A big influence on the decorative arts in Austria, his most famous paintings include Salome (1901, also known as Judith and the Head of Holofernes) Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907, also known as Golden Adele) and Hygeia (1907, detail from Medicine).

Extra credit:

Gustav Klimt was played by actor John Malkovich in the 2006 biopic Klimt.

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