Klimt's work is distinguished by the elegant gold or coloured decoration, often of a phallic shape that conceals the more erotic positions of the drawings upon which many of his paintings are based.
Wandering the Greek Theatre (fresco)
Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, the second of seven children — three boys and four girls. All three sons displayed artistic talent early on. His father, Ernst Klimt, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. Ernst married Anna Klimt (née Finster), whose unrealized ambition was to be a musical performer. Klimt lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and the economy difficult for immigrants. In 1876, Klimt was enrolled in the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied until 1883, and received training as an architectural painter. He revered the foremost history painter of the time, Hans Makart. Unlike many young artists, Klimt accepted the principles of conservative Academic training. In 1877 his brother Ernst, who, like his father, would become an engraver, also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and their friend Franz Matsch began working together; by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team they called the "Company of Artists".
The clown on The Fair Stage 1892
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 art. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892 both Klimt's father and brother Ernst died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father's and brother's family. The tragedies affected his artistic vision as well, and soon he would veer toward a new personal style. In the early 1890s, Klimt met Emilie Flöge, who, notwithstanding the artist's relationships with other women, was to be his companion until the end of his life. Whether his relationship with Flöge was sexual or not is debated, but during that period Klimt fathered at least 14 children.
Tree of Life
Adele Bloch-Bauer's Portrait
Lady with Fan
The Three Ages of Woman, 1905
Danaë, painted 1907
Il Mare Atelier
Beethoven Frieze - Longing for Happiness Finds Repose in Poetry (right) 1902
Farmhouse with Birch Trees
Litzlberg Island Chateau
Lost in the forest