Gustav Klimt was born in Austria in 1862. His father was a gold engraver and, though the family never had much money, Klimt had dreams of becoming an artist. It was in 1876 that Klimt received a scholarship to attend the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts where he studied as an architectural painter. Though at first Klimt painted in a very academic style, that was soon to change. After the death of his father and brother we begin to see a shift in Klimt’s style as it becomes more akin to the later works for which he is most famous. In 1908 Klimt was one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession. This was a group with no single artistic style to pursue or even any kind of a manifesto they followed. Instead, the Vienna Secession was a group of artists whose goal it was, was to find and provide exhibition spaces for young and unconventional artists. Realists, Symbolists, such as Klimt himself, and many other various artists came together to display their work and promote their craft.
One of Klimt’s most famous works was Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. This large work was done in oil paints and gold. The painting is made up of many patterns, from the splotchy gold of the background to the multiple patterns which make up Adele’s dress. It is just her face, shoulders, arms which are un-patterned and pale along with a section of green floor in the bottom left corner of the painting. This painting was sold in 2006 for the whopping amount of $135 million, a testament to the greatness Klimt’s works achieved to be sure.
Another very famous painting by Klimt is The Kiss, which was begun in the same year as Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I but not finished until three years later. There are nearly no flat expanses of color, everything is patterned. The background is a splotchy mass of shades of gold. The ground is patterned with grass and wild flowers of every color. A man and a woman are in the center of the painting. The woman kneels amid the flowers as he man bends over her and kisses her cheek. The only thing that denotes one figure from the other is the different patterning in their golden clothing. One again the only non-patterned are of the painting is the soft, smooth skin of the figures.Klimt was one of the greatest Symbolist painters the world has ever seen. Today his work is located in major museums around the globe. His works have sold for incredibly high amounts of money, proving to be some of the highest amounts that an artist’s work has ever sold for.