* 1862 Baumgarten/Wien
† 1918 Wien
The Austrian painter and graphic artist Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten near Vienna on July 14, 1862. He studies at the Vienna School of Applied Arts from 1876 to 1883 and is acknowledged for decorative murals that he mostly executes in co-operation with his brother Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch. They make, among others, the ceiling of the palace for the master builder Sturny in 1880, murals and ceilings for the theatre in Fiume in 1883, the spa hotel and the city theatre of Carlsbad in 1886, the staircases of the Vienna 'Burgtheater' in 1887/88 and for the 'Kunsthistorische Museum'(Museum of Art History) in 1891.
Strongly influenced by the European Art Nouveau movement, Gustav Klimt, along with Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich and others founds the Vienna Secession in 1897. He is president of the group until 1905. Klimt makes numerous illustrations for the Secession's magazine "Ver Sacrum". On occasion of an exhibition with Max Klinger's Beethoven sculpture, Gustav Klimt draws the "Beethoven fries" in the Secession's building in 1901.
Already his early works show an increasing usage of decorative-symbolist ornaments and a stylization of his motifs. He combines a naturalist, plastic depiction of the body with small parts that seem like mosaics decorated with valuable gems. Among his favorite colors is gold, which he preferably uses as of 1905.
The works of Gustav Klimt adjure a sensualist artificial religion, art is supposed to be purifying and elevating. The large number of female nudes that Klimt paints reflect the role of erotic elements in his works.
Gustav Klimt is regarded as one of the main representatives of Vienna Art Nouveau (Wiener Jugendstil) who also had major influence on the handicrafts of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop). Gustav Klimt dies in Vienna on February 6, 1918.