History of Gustav Klimt
In celebration of the new movie, Woman in Gold, this Art & Home will be focused around the painter, Gustav Klimt!
The movie is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, who was the niece of Adele Bloch-Baur. Bloch-Baur was the muse for Gustav Klimt’s painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Baur I, which is featured in this post’s picture header. The painting was stolen from Altmann’s Jewish family by the Nazi’s just before WWII. Altmann fought the Austrian government for nearly a decade for the return of her family’s beloved painting.
Gustav Klimt is one of the most influential painters to come from Austria in the late 1800’s. He began his career working for commission while still studying in school. Patrons would come to him and ask for painted murals in their churches, theaters, and other public spaces. He went on to begin creating his own work, usually oil paintings on canvas, but also making drawings.
While Klimt is popular now, his later works received a lot of backlash when he was alive. These artworks were considered distasteful because he loved to paint women in supine poses, or even nude. This motivated him to be the one of the influential leaders in the The Secession Movement in Vienna, Austria. The movement worked to expose young artists work and help bring new and foreign artwork into the city of Vienna.
However, after he left the movement, Vienna no longer welcomed him as an artist. His pieces, such as The Kiss, were regarded as being too erotic for most of the population to accept. Looking at this painting now, there is nothing explicitly erotic and most would find this painting very sweet to view. The painting is a tender moment between a man and woman. The man gently cradles his lover’s head in his hands as he leans in for the kiss. The woman has one hand near his hand, almost appearing to be pulling his hand away. However, if you look at her other hand, it is draped around his neck, relaxed and enjoying the moment. There is tension created, not only in the frozen moment of a potential kiss, but also in the way it has been painted. The patterned clothing flattens out the figures, while the figures faces and hands all have dimension. The man’s head is turned. Only part of the woman’s second leg can be seen. There is a realistic representation in these areas, but it is contrasted by the flatness of the precipice they are kneeling on.
My favorite part of this painting is the ephemeral quality to the background. The Kiss is a part of the collection known as the Golden Phase of Klimt’s artwork. Mostly in part, because he uses actual gold leaf in his paintings. Gold leaf is a very thin sheet of beaten gold that can be applied to paintings, jewelry, glassware, and other objects. Klimt uses gold leaf to create a tangible glow to the painting that radiates around the figures. This is their golden moment, frozen forever.
There are currently 24 pieces of Klimt’s work in the permanent collection for viewing at The Österreichische Galerie at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria. But, if you won’t be in Austria any time soon, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) has acquired the painting Adele Bloch-Bauer II into their long-term, permanent collection.
If you would like to learn more about Gustav Klimt, you can visit these websites dedicated to his work.
Inspired by Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt is known far and wide and his artwork is creeping into homes and businesses everywhere. Despite his work’s controversial past, they are now considered elegant and beautiful works to have in your home. For those who love gold, his works are the perfect complement to your taste!
Murals in homes are becoming very popular as focal points in rooms. Klimt’s patterns in his work creates a lot of visual appeal and draws your eye to it immediately. Instead of having this painting commissioned or replicating it yourself, there are companies making bathroom wall tiles and vinyl wall clings for homes! Adding Klimt’s work to your home is simple and elegant. Two of my favorite things!
If you just don’t have the space for an entire wall dedicated to Klimt, you can always accessorize your place to fit the tone of his paintings! The art style that centers around his time period and style is called Art Nouveau. Not to be confused with the Art Deco style, although they are very similar at first glance. Art Nouveau is from the late 1800’s and is characterized more with deep, bold colors, images of flowers and the female figure, and use of stained glass. Art Deco style is from the 1920’s and is characterized by sharp triangle and scalloped shapes, white, black, and splashes of color, and more abstract patterns than figurative images.
Try going to antique stores to find furniture or look online! The more intricate the designs, the better, when it comes to the Art Nouveau style. Look for patterns, bold colors, and images of women. You can accessorize with your favorite Klimt print to hang on your wall or printed onto throw pillows! Decorate an entryway with a gilded mirror, table, and a chaise or chairs. Find antique lamps with a stained glass shade, or window clings with stained glass designs for your door windows for the complete effect. Greet your guests with an exquisite entryway created from Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase.
Interested in seeing your favorite artist? Have a favorite art style that you’d like to see a room designed around? Let me know in the comments below!