Gustav Klimt
December 8, 2004 12:13 PM   Subscribe

The artist Gustav Klimt began his career by creating classical realist murals for public buildings in Vienna. Soon, his innovations and experiments became too controversial for further government-commissioned work, illustrating the changes in society taking place around him. Klimt’s sensual paintings (which sometimes included nudity) shocked some, as did his experiments in form. Since his father was an engraver, Klimt took to using gold in his work, creating a distinct style. You’ve probably seen at least his most famous work, The Kiss. People can see Klimt’s work in person, including the spectacular “Beethoven Frieze” wall cycle, at the Secession Museum in Vienna. On-line, there’s this database of about 100 works, searchable by title, year, theme and technique. Another gallery of 114 works is here, and for landscapes, try these.
posted by jeffmshaw (25 comments total)
Well, at least he wasn't as much of a fuckup as Picasso.

Speaking of, I mean, how many people with remotely ANY knowledge of art don't know who Klimt was? Is this "show off stuff people have almost assuredly already seen if they're at all interested in the subject matter" day?
posted by u.n. owen at 12:29 PM on December 8, 2004

Timeline progression of the bedroom wall poster art of the most pretentious friend (he even had a beret and smoked cloves) that i knew in high school:

H.R. Geiger poster of Alien (9th grade), MC Escher's staircases (10th), Dali's persistance of memory (11th), Klimt's kiss (12th).
posted by Peter H at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2004

Oop, Giger not Geiger.
posted by Peter H at 12:34 PM on December 8, 2004

I've always thought Klimt was a heavy influence for Bill Sienkiewicz, my favorite comic book artist (though I haven't been into comics since the late 80s). [/not trying to derail]
posted by effwerd at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2004

Reminds me of that episode of buffy where the college vampires take these posters off of the walls of their victims and tack them to the wall of their vampire lair. it was a funny joke.

They had a wall of about 30 of the kiss one.
posted by Jeremy at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2004

Nice post. It's the art links that attracted me to this place. That database is fantastic!

posted by joelf at 1:05 PM on December 8, 2004

Thanks for the links.

u.n. owen: lighten up, man.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 1:16 PM on December 8, 2004

I wonder what it would be like to create a work like The Kiss. I wonder if the tectonic plates shifted when it was completed?
posted by mcsweetie at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2004

Klimt fans may be interested in an upcoming fictional novel based around his life and due out in April 2005, called The Painted Kiss.
posted by SpaceBass at 1:30 PM on December 8, 2004

I was going to point out that "Aeon Flux" is definitely influenced by Klimt, as well, but then I realized that no, that was Egon Schiele...

(Close, I guess, since Schiele was apparently a protege of Klimt's...)
posted by LairBob at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2004

thanks for the links - while i have taken any number of art history courses that have explored klimt's work, i was unfamiliar with his landscapes. they remind me a bit of a sort of mix of a vangogh landscape with a bit of seurat thrown in.

Peter H : your friend reminds me of any number of people i knew in college who exemplify a type of "art lover" i can not stand, namely those who claim that their favorite movement is Surrealism and that dáli is their hero and know nothing else about any sort of art ever. these people make me hate dáli and i he probably doesn't deserve it. while i've seen far too many posters of "the kiss" in far too many dorm rooms, people don't seem to have the same sort of fervor about klimt, which is why i suppose i can still stand him.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:24 PM on December 8, 2004

Klimt is my second least favorite artist. Bleh.

But I hadn't seen many of his landscapes, and I think they're decidedly less bleh than the rest of his work. Not saying alot, but ... [now all I need to do is find one, just one, not utterly detestable Marc Chagall work and I'll be ok]
posted by zpousman at 2:49 PM on December 8, 2004

Klimt is my second least favorite artist. Bleh.

please please tell me that he rates above The Painter of Light.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:04 PM on December 8, 2004

I saw the Beethoven Frieze in was pretty intense. I was 18 at the time and didn't appreciate it fully. I heard that some unfinished paintings were found and they showed that Klimt painted his portraits nude first, then painted clothes on top of the nude portrait. Weird.
posted by pepcorn at 3:05 PM on December 8, 2004

Klimt's The Kiss, u.n owen's The Ass.

It's all artistry of some form or another.
posted by elphTeq at 3:28 PM on December 8, 2004

u.n. owen, my friend, you are truly an asshole.

Beyond that, I love Klimt, but not as much as his contemporary, Egon Schiele, who was even darker and freakier (his most famous "Self-Portrait" depicts himself masturbating).

Thing is, these Austrian expressionists were total sex-fiends. Schiele was a child rapist, Klimt always painted his women nude and finished his paintings by putting clothing on them.

See what I get for dating neurotic art-history chicks whilst in college?

Nice post.

PS if yr even in Vienna, check out the Klimt museum. It's frescolicious.
posted by bardic at 4:06 PM on December 8, 2004

I was surprised to not see a link to the upcoming film, Klimt with John Malkovich as Klimt. I like Malkovich in that role because I think he has the intensity to do it well in addition to having more than a passing resemblance to the artist in question.

And for extra-credit in pretentious art discussions, you can opine about Klimt's role in the fin de siecle. Compare and contrast with the painters of Paris and discuss the relative importance in creating Modernism.

On preview: I've got to second bardics bit about them being total sex fiends. Pre-WW I Western Europe sounded like a hoot and a holler for the artistic types.
posted by afflatus at 4:15 PM on December 8, 2004

I'm more of a Schiele fan (and Kokoschka, who came later), but the Secession Museum is an amazing place--the perfect setting for Klimt, i think.

I'd compare Klimt to Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites, rather than to other Austrians.
posted by amberglow at 4:24 PM on December 8, 2004

I actually just found what appears to be a new and nicely designed site about fin de siecle artists. Check out Fin de Siecle - Symbolist Art From the Age of Decadence. It has a nicely organized gallery of artists from the period as well as a section of articles.

I particularly liked the section on Themes and Obsessions. Not a huge amount of content yet, but a good start.
posted by afflatus at 4:29 PM on December 8, 2004

Schiele was a child rapist


He was repeatedly accused of that sort of thing, since several of his drawings do involve young models in pornographic positions, but I haven't read anything that actually backs up those accusations. He was arrested once, but the child molestation charges were dropped and he was sentenced to three days in prison for "displaying immoral drawings where they were visible to children," according to the book I have. He was definitely a sex fiend though...
posted by furiousthought at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2004

[I'm tickled that this thread has comments by swordfishtrombones and grapefruitmoon.]
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2004

alternate version of "The Kiss" and another (this might take you back a few years) gallery with some slightly larger images
posted by indices at 6:39 PM on December 8, 2004

Ah, Jeremy, ya beat me to it!
Klimt is one of those artists I find hard to look at objectively, what with the intense over-saturation of his images in popular culture (posters, mugs, t-shirts, day-timers, underwear...). It's really beautiful, but kinda' boring at this point.
I love Schiele's art, even though it gives me the wiggins. It has more emotional depth (in my opinion) than Klimt, but I wouldn't put it on the wall in my bedroom.
Henry Moore, now there's a sensual artist, and without the pervy undertones.
posted by towerbrave at 7:36 PM on December 8, 2004

I confess, this is the first thing I thought of:

Trendy Man: Mr. Melon, your wife was just showing us her Klimt.
Thornton Melon: You too, huh? She's shown it to everybody.
Trendy Man: Well, she's very proud of it.
Thornton Melon: I'm proud of mine too. I don't go waving it around at parties, though.
Trendy Man: It's an exceptional painting.
Thornton Melon: Oh, the painting.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:21 PM on December 8, 2004

nice post, jeffmshaw!

As towerbrave points out, Klimt has suffered from overexposure and I was not all that eager to go to his museum when I was in Vienna, but it proved to be a pleasant surprise... his work is much more exciting in person ... and what amberglow said.

Thanks for the heads up about the novel and the Malkovich film, SpaceBass and afflatus.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:34 PM on December 8, 2004

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