Klimt was born near Vienna in Austria-Hungary in 1862. Though he lacked financial means, he attended the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule (now the University of Applied Arts Vienna). He began his career painting architectural decorations, but as his style developed, his work was somewhat unconventional for its eroticism, and when he was accused of painting pornography on the ceiling of Great Hall of the University of Vienna, he ceased taking on public commissions.
In 1897, he founded the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession), a group of painters, graphic artists, sculptors and architects who wanted to explore less conventional art. Klimt painted prolifically – in his own words:
I’m a painter who paints day in day out, from morning till evening – figure pictures and landscapes, more rarely portraits.
Here are three of Klimt’s works depicting the female form. His signature style is evident: ‘All art is erotic,’ he said.
(Left: Judith II, 1909; top right: Adele Bloch-Bauer’s Portrait, 1907; Hope II, 1907–8.)
Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ earned him the most positive reaction from critics. It’s so-called because he used gold leaf in his works. My favourite work of Klimt’s is from this period. It’s called The Kiss (1907–8).
Sublimely, romantic, don’t you think? It’s an oil-on-canvas painting, but Klimt also used gold leaf, silver and platinum. The colours are just divine.
There is something so passionate about Klimt’s art, so alive. I admire him greatly, for his work ethic and his determination to take his own path, even if it wasn’t conventional. Most of all I love his approach to his art. He said:
There is always hope, as long as the canvases are empty.
Such a beautiful way to think of art. I feel the same way about the empty page. So many stories to tell, so much hope.
Don’t forget: as part of my Sunday Special giveaway, I’m giving away a ‘Hope’ silk scarf (shown below), inspired by Klimt’s Hope II painting. For your chance to win, simply subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page. The competition closes on 23rd August 2020, and five winners will be chosen at random from my list of subscribers.