Artist
Gustav Klimt
Austrian symbolist and vanguardist painter

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Gustav Klimt
Austrian symbolist and vanguardist painter
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Average: 5 (3 votes)

Birth Date

July 14, 1862

Death Date

February 06, 1918

Arty Fact

jtucker's picture

Contributor

The life of Gustav Klimt didn't start out as shiny and golden as it ended.

He grew up in a very impoverished family in Austria. His father clearly did not possess the knack for manipulating gold like Gustav did. He tried to make a living as a gold engraver but made very little money doing so. Early on, one of Klimt's sisters died at the age of five, another sister had a mental breakdown after surrendering to religious fervor, and then his father and brother passed away days apart, leaving Gustav to support their families. His selflessness shows that he is not a gold digger as one might presume, but a generous soul who was dealt a tough hand. 

His works are marked by strong eroticism, which tended to create quite a stir among the public. Around 1900, he created a body of work for the ceiling of Great Hall of the University of Vienna, which was deemed blatantly pornographic and was rejected by the community. These paintings were later destroyed in 1945 by the SS forces, a paramilitary organization under Hitler. 

Klimt was a very secretive guy, but one thing he was pretty open about was how much he liked sex. He probably liked sex a little too much because he is said to have fathered at least 14 illegitimate children. He clearly felt comfortable in his birthday suit and enjoyed painting wearing only sandals, a robe, and no underwear.

Commando Klimt died in his apartment from a stroke while suffering from pneumonia. He became very successful during his life and even more so after his death. His paintings have gone for as much as $135 million in auction. 

ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Some more Gustav goodies:

He disliked disruptions during working hours so much that he held regular visiting hours at a local café for breakfast.

He preferred to paint for Jews because the Christians were way too picky about his work.

His works for the University of Vienna, allegories of Jurisprudence, Philosophy, and Medicine, were unfortunately destroyed during World War II. The Nazis seized the paintings and placed them in a remote castle for safekeeping. Alas, when the Allied forces occupied the area SS troops burned the entire castle down. Today only sketches and blurry photos remain.

His last words were “Send for Emilie.” Emilie Flöge was his sister-in-law’s sister and one of Vienna’s top couturiers. Klimt developed quite the working relationship with the sisters. He contributed designs and even helped decorate their showroom.

Reports vary on the number of illegitimate children he fathered, but it's somewhere between three and forty.

 

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art. Klimt's primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism. In addition to his figurative works, which include allegories and portraits, he painted landscapes. Among the artists of the Vienna Secession, Klimt was the most influenced by Japanese art and its methods.

Early in his artistic career, he was a successful painter of architectural decorations in a conventional manner. As he developed a more personal style, his work was the subject of controversy that culminated when the paintings he completed around 1900 for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna were criticized as pornographic. 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's work was an important influence on his younger contemporary Egon Schiele.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Gustav Klimt.