Abstract Impressionism

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Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt born July 14, 1862 was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other artistic objets.

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children—three boys and four girls. His mother was Anna Klimt. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt's younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt.

Many paintings of Gustav Klimt has non abstract basis, but more than a half of the surface of the painting is clearly abstract and impressionist. So some of his exquisite creations are considered genius works of abstract impressionism.

Klimt lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied architectural painting until 1883. Klimnt and his brother Ernst with their friend, Franz Matsch, began working together and by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team that they called the "Company of Artists". They also helped their teacher in painting murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstraße, including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

In 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor

Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in the Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honorary member

of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892 Klimt's father and brother Ernst both died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father's and brother's families. The tragedies also affected his artistic vision and soon he would move towards a new personal style.

In the early 1890s Klimt met Emilie Louise Flöge who was to be his companion until the end of his life. In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material. The public outcry came from all quarters—political, aesthetic and religious. As a result, the paintings were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist. All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945.

His Nuda Veritas (1899) defined his bid to further "shake up" the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad.

Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success. Many of his paintings from this period include gold leaf. Klimt had previously used gold in his Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with

this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907/8). In a rare writing called "Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait", he states "I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures."

In 1901 Herman Bahr wrote, in his Speech on Klimt: "Just as only a lover can reveal to a man what life means to him and develop its innermost significance, I feel the same about these paintings."

Gustav Klimt died in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the influenza epidemic of that year. Gustav Klimt was buried at the Hietzinger Cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna. Numerous paintings by him were left unfinished.

Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt's Landhaus am Attersee sold for $29 million but that sale was soon eclipsed by prices paid for other Klimts. In 2006, the 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, was purchased for the Neue Galerie New York by Ronald Lauder reportedly for US $135 million, as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting. The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II was sold at auction in November 2006 for $88 million, the third-highest priced piece of art at auction at the time.