Vienna *1862 - †1918 Vienna
As a co-founder of the Secession and organizer of the “Kunstschau” 1908 as well as of the “Internationale Kunstschau” in the following year, Klimt was of significant importance for the breakthrough of the international Avantgarde in Vienna.His oeuvre begins with his examination of historism and continues via the art of the Secession until his late works, that were influenced by the Fauves and by the younger generation of Austrian artists.
Gustav Klimt was born 1962 as the second of seven children. While he studied at the school for applied arts/”Kunstgewerbeschule” he founded a studio-community, together with his brother Ernst and his colleague Franz Matsch. They called it the “Künstler-Compagnie”/Artist Company. During the construction of Ringstrasse Klimt received commissions for decorations at Burgtheater and “Kunsthistorisches Museum”/Museum of Art History.
In 1897 Klimt was co-founder of the “Wiener Secession” and became the first president there. On the occasion of the 14th exhibition of the association of artists of the Secession 1902 Klimt painted the cycle Beethovenfries, which is dedicated to the composer Ludwig van Beethoven. The Beethovenfries was positioned on the walls of the Wiener Secession. Klimt was dedicated to the renewal of art and the encouragement of young artists like Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. But 1905 the scandal about his so called faculty-paintings (the University of Vienna ceiling paintings) caused Klimt’s withdrawal from public.
After that Klimt worked exclusively for the liberal upper class. He made the world-famous lady-portraits: Sonja Knips (1898), Fritza Riedler (1906), Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907), Johanna Staude (1917/18). Furthermore, Klimt created allegoric and symbolic works, the most famous one is the depiction of two lovers, “Der Kuss”/The Kiss from 1908.
During the summer months Klimt often went to lake Attersee, where he painted most of his landscapes.
1918 Klimt suffered a stroke and died at the age of 56 years.