Gustav Klimt

Halfway between modernism and symbolism appears the figure of Gustav Klimt. His nearly abstract landscapes make him a forerunner of geometric abstraction.

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About the artist: Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Halfway between modernism and symbolism, Klimt’s nearly abstract landscapes make him a forerunner of geometric abstraction. Klimt is best known for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art.

Early in his artistic career, he was a successful painter of architectural decorations in a traditional style. He also painted the female body in a frank and erotic manner. In addition to his figurative works, which include allegories and portraits, Klimt painted landscapes, influenced by Japanese art. His paintings for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna became the subject of controversy in the early 1900s, after they were criticised for being too erotic. He subsequently accepted no more public commissions, but achieved a new success with the paintings of his ‘golden phase’, many of which include gold leaf.

Klimt was devoted to the industrial arts and had a significant influence on the painter Egon Schiele.