Gustav Klimt

The Master Artist

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Klimt, The Friends

Women-friends

One of the recurring themes in the works of Gustav Klimt paintings was the female shape, often shown as the femme fatale or in the nude woman. The 1916 painting “The Friends” offers an example where both of these forces seems to be at works simultaneously. The painting depicts two female friends together. One is naked while the other is covered by a red cloak. Their style of dress gives the impression of exotic origins, potentially from the Arab world, though they are both Caucasian in look. The presence of a dragon-like peacock to the left of the women amplifies this exotic appeal. The background for the painting is red, unlike the many earlier golden works of Klimt.

The nude woman wears a scarf covered in symbols around her head. However, aside from that one piece, the remaining cloth in the painting is devoid of obvious symbols, unlike what is seen in many earlier Klimt paintings. Nevertheless, the many birds and flowers surrounding the fair are instead inbued with their own symbolic meaning.

When looking at “The Friends”, it can be hard to see which of the two the femme fatale is. Indeed, both women can be said to fit that particular description. Not that this in any way diminishes the appeal of the motive – it would rather be the other way around. Gustav Klimt reproductions.

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Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II

Adele-bloch-bauer-ii

Gustav Klimt did a number of portraits, especially of women, in his career. However, there was only one woman whom Klimt actually painted twice. That woman was Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer who was a wealthy business man and supporter of Klimt paintings.  The more famous of these two portraits is the first one, which was done during the height of Klimt’s golden period.

The second portrait was painted by Klimt in 1912, five years after the first one. It offers a very different palette from the golden painting of 1907. Instead, we see Adele Bloch-Bauer in a rather bland grayish robe, as she stands in the middle of the painting. The robe itself seems inspired by the Japanese arts and styles that had already made quite an impact in European art. Standing among flowers, a parade of sorts seems to be taking place in the background. The background colors and fairly subdued, unlike in the first portrait where the golden colors shined. The symbolism is also less obvious, though the combined use of men and flowers offers a few interpretations in this regard in the painting.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” was sold on auction at Christies in 2006 for USD 88 million. As such, it is among the most expensive paintings in the world.

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Hope II

Hope-ii

Gustav Klimt Paintings involved avid depictions of women and children also made an appearance in a number of his paintings, including works like Death and Life. However, throughout the ages depictions of pregnant women have been rare and the works of Klimt are no exception. In Hope II, Klimt makes an exception by portraying a woman with her large pregnant belly. A skull is attached to the gown. Below her, three other women also bow their heads. Whether they are praying for a safe birth or actually morning cannot be said for sure.

The dress of the women and the surface they seem to rest on is extremely ornate, as is the style of Klimt. This is combined with byzantine style gold leaf painting around the main subjects to create a unified whole for the subject to rest in, and to keep our attention towards the central figures.

The focus of the painting on the bringing about of a new life, combined with the uncertain symbols and death and maybe mourning, reflects Klimt’s drive to depict the modern psychological subjects of the time. Klimt was an inhabitant of turn of the century Vienna, together with influences like Freud himself, and this springs through in works like Hope II.

Klimt’s Hope II can today be found in the collection of the Museum of Modern Arts in New York City.

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Klimt Reproductions

We continuously see more and more cases of art being reproduced today. Numerous websites offers reproductions of varying quality of the great masters, including Gustav Klimt reproductions. On the surface of things, reproducing Klimt could seem as among the more difficult tasks. His paintings offer sophisticated structures but not only that – he also used gold leaf in paintings like “The Kiss”. This made his original art expensive in his own day, and would not make it any less so today.

Fortunately, there have been some developments in the world of paint since then. Indeed, using gold paint in the place of gold leaf, painters are able to reproduce works of Klimt with uncanny resemblance. All of a certain, “Portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”, “The Kiss” and more can indeed be reproduced to adorn the home. While the material is different and some historical notes on Klimt’s process might not be included, unless one wants to pay for real gold to be used of course, it also offers an exceptional opportunity to bring the beauty of Klimt right into your own home. Indeed, after looking at a few such paintings, we can honestly say that the results are not only impressive but uncanny in quality as well. It is also a definitive step upwards from posters and the like. Today, such reproductions can be made in high quality and we are very happy for it. 

Filed under fine art Gustav Klimt oil paintings The Kiss

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The Three Ages of women

Around 1905, after having completed such works as Judith I and the university paintings, Gustav Klimt paintingsThe Three Ages of women”. It was his first allegory that did not rely on historical and mythological figures. It was also the beginning of the larger multi figure allegories that took up much of the artist’s time in his later years.

Three Ages of Women depicts three women at different times of their lives. The youngest is the baby. She is in turn being held by the mother, still young but an adult. Last is the old woman, standing next to them and looking down. The three figures are set against a symbolic background so common in Klimt’s work. These symbols hold the energy of life and surrounds our main three figures. Outside this area, which holds all three figures, more uniform colors of gold and darkness prevail, a void that is close by but for now kept at bay. This structure also helps ensuring that our focus is kept on the three central figures.

The same three figures can be made out in both Medicine and Death and Life, other paintings by Klimt. After the death of his son Otto in 1902, Klimt became increasingly occupied with the subject of death and that can have helped lead to these paintings. As is customary for Klimt, notice that the focus is always on the female shape in these paintings.

Three ages of Women can today be found at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, Italy.

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Klimt’s Death and Life

Among the master pieces of Gustav Klimt, Death and Life won the first price at the world exhibition in Rome in 1911. The award was a great honor for Gustav Klimt paintings and also a clear indication of his standing within the artistic community.
 
Death and Life has two very clearly separated parts. To the left, we see Death. Death is depicted and the classic grim reaper, a grinning skull, covered in a dark robe covered with symbols. The main symbol we see covering Death is that of the cross.
 

To the right we see life. We see a number of young women lying on a flower bed. We have seen similar flower beds before, e.g. in The Kiss We see a newly created life, a baby, lying in their arms. We see a muscular man holding one of the women and we see an older woman also lying in the middle of the group. The depiction thus covers people, young and old, with a focus on the adults in their best age. There is an over representation of women in the painting which could refer to women as the source of all life. It could also reflect Klimt’s preference for depiction women, preferably somewhat undressed. All the subjects are somewhat covered by cloth bearing numerous symbols.

The composition and execution is thus typical Klimt, with symbols taking a center stage. The scene on the flower bed is also reminiscent of Klimt’s The Virgin, though the presence of a man, child and older woman are differences. Still, the overall depiction is very similar.
 
The title and order of things is another interesting facet of this painting. You would normally refer to Life and Death but Klimt depicts it otherwise, as if Death comes first, stalking life.
 

Death and Life can today be found in a private collection.

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The Subject in Art

A look at the subjects of art from the perspective of great painters such as Van Gogh and Claude Monet and how they helped to change the way that people viewed great art. This change from the renaissance splendor to more ordinary subjects whose beauty would normally be overlooked. read the full article of The Subject in Art

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Avenue in the Park of Kammer Castle

When thinking of the mature works of Klimt, depictions of gold and symbols are what most readily come to mind. Indeed, with works like The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer I among his work, it is works like these that have come to define Klimt the artist. However, it is also not the complete story about Klimt. He also did paint other more traditional pieces. Indeed, some works had a more post-impressionist vibe almost like the works of Van Gogh. A case in point is Avenue in the Park of Kammer Castle, which was painted by Gustav Klimt in 1912.
 
The painting depicts the tree lined cobblestone street leading down to the castle. The trees lining the street show off their long brown limps leading to more lush green crowns at the top. Beyond these road trees, even more greenery is also visible. Beyond we see the yellow castle building with its red roof and wooden gate. The depiction is not exact but rather relies on color over line and some freedom of interpretation by Klimt. This is in line with a post-impressionistic streak we do not normally see from the artist. The brush strokes of Gustav Klimt paintings remain gentle and hidden, however.
 

Today, Avenue in the Park of Kammer Castle can be seen at the Belvedere in Vienna.

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Hygeia

Trained as an architectural painter, Gustav Klimt paintings contributed to the interior decorations of numerous public buildings in Vienna. Among the more famous cases are the faculty paintings he completed for the University of Vienna in the years 1900-07. The three paintings, Medicine, Philosophy and Jurisprudence, covered three central faculties at the school. The paintings were unfortunately all destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945.

 

The second of the three works was unveiled at the tenth Secession Exhibition in 1901. This work covered Medicine. In the painting we find a river of life running in the upper part, with a floating girl and her newborn symbolizing life and a skeleton within the river of life symbolizing its ties to death. In the lower part of the painting, we find Hygeia, the Greek goodness of health, cleanliness and sanitation and daughter of the god of medicine. Standing there in her red robes, the Aesculapius snake is wrapped around her arm while she is holding the cup of Lethe in her hand (the drinking of which results in the loss of memory). A photo of Hygeia taken before the destruction of the painting ensures that we have a clear view of how this masterful depiction looked.

In the painting, we see Hygeia somewhat turning her back to mankind. She seems aloof and somewhat abstracted. Combined with the river of life present, it provides a sort of an ambiguous unity of life and death in the painting. This ambiguous unity was interpreted as a lacking role for medicine in curing the sick and preventing death. The piece was thus widely criticized for this when it was first revealed. The faculty paintings were also accused of being perverted and pornographic, though that is hardly unusual for works of Klimt at this time.
 

Still, the look and pose of Hygeia is one of power and deferred interest. She looks majestic in her red robe with golden symbols, as she considers her interest in what lays before her. It is a true Klimt master piece and one that highly deserves reproduction, so that we can once again enjoy its forceful beauty.

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Klimt The Kiss

Painted by Gustav Klimt during his ‘golden period’, The Kiss (originally Der Kuss) is probably his most famous work. It depicts a couple situated at the edge of a flowered escarpment in various shades of gold and symbols, while sharing a kiss against a bronze background.