PopUp Painting’s ‘artist of the week’ is Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.
Klimt was a ‘Symbolist’ painter and one of the most prominent members of the ‘Vienna Secession Movement’.
The artist’s style was not always progressive, his early works were academic in style. Klimt attended the ‘Vienna School of Arts and Crafts’, having trained as an architectural painter. The artist’s brother, Ernst, also studied at the same art school and upon graduating the brothers worked together painting murals throughout Vienna.
In 1888, Gustav Klimt received the ‘Golden order of Merit’ from ‘Emperor Franz Josef I’ of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in Vienna.
After the death of his father and brother, Klimt’s style began to change. He became fixated on depicting the female form, usually naked and in an erotic manner. This style was subject to controversy amongst the public, particularly when the artist completed a mural for the ceiling of the ‘Great Hall’ of the ‘University of Vienna’ depicting erotic female forms. There was public outcry and his work was viewed as being ‘pornographic’.
Soon after, the artist founded the ‘Secession Movement’, a movement that objected to the conservatism of traditional Viennese art. The artist went on to work in a style that emphasised sexuality and eroticism.
His works celebrated the erotic, a boundary that fellow Austrian, Sigmund Frued would soon also challenge when he published his work ‘Three essays on the Theory of Sexuality’. During this time one of Klimt’s most important bodies of work was his ‘golden phase’, where the artist used pure gold leaf to create work. One of Klimt’s most famous paintings from this period was ‘The Kiss’ which took the artist two years to complete.
In the meantime we will also be featuring Gustav Klimt’s work all week on our Facebook and Twitter pages, here is little taster of our favourite works by the artist: