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Klimt, Gustav (1862 - 1918)

The painter Gustav Klimt was born on 14th July 1862 in Baumgarten, a part of today's 14th district in Vienna. He is considered the main figure of Austria’s Art Nouveau.

Belvedere Vienna, Klimt Collection © Belvedere Vienna/ Ian Ehm
From 1897 to 1905 Gustav Klimt was president of the Secession Vienna, of which he was also co-founder. His pictures, painted with unobtrusive colours full of symbolic power, are a combination of two-dimensional, mosaic-like elements and Art Nouveau ornaments. According to Klimt himself, who never painted self-portraits, he preferred to paint people - “especially women” - in mostly erotic forms. From his paintings, the viewer "should seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” Gustav Klimt died on 6th February 1918 in Vienna.

Biographical Overview

1862 Born on 14th July in Baumgarten near Vienna (today a part of Vienna’s 14th district, Linzer Strasse 247).

1876-83 Attended the School of Applied Arts of the Austrian Museum for Art and Industry.

1879 Worked at the pageant of Hans Makart in honour of the imperial couple’s silver wedding.

1883 Establishment of the "Künstlerkompanie" (Artists’ Company). Gustav Klimt, his brother Ernst and Franz Matsch shared a studio on Sandwirtgasse 8, 6th district, Vienna.

1883-85 Works by the Artists’ Company for the Town Theater in Fiume (Croatia) and Karlsbad (Bohemia), as well as for the Bucharest National Theater (Romania).

1886-91 Works by the Artists’ Company on the frescos of the staircases in the Vienna Burgtheater as well as the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

1892 Death of beloved brother Ernst and his father. In the same year moved to his studio in Josefstädterstrasse 21, 8th district, Vienna.

1894 Commissioned to paint the faculty paintings for the University of Vienna together with Franz Matsch. Beginning of artistic estrangement between Klimt and Matsch.

1897-99 President of the Wiener Secession.

1898 From this year on Klimt spends the summer months in the Upper Austrian Salzkammergut, mostly at Lake Attersee. He does his first landscape painting.

1898 First and second exhibition of the Secession with works by Gustav Klimt.

1899 Produces "Schubert at the piano", considered one of the most popular paintings in his lifetime (burned in 1945).

1900 Exhibition of the 1st version of the faculty painting "Philosophy" at the Secession, which leads to an art scandal. The 3 faculty paintings, also considered principal works, are burned in1945.

1902 Portrait of Emilie Flöge. Beginning of a life-long friendship with the fashion parlour owner.

1902 14th exhibition of the Secession: Beethoven frieze.

1905 Left the "Klimt Group" (Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, Kolo Moser a.o.).

1905-11 "Stoclet frieze". In the Stoclet Palace in Brussels (Belgium).

1907-08 Painting of The Kiss, considered one of the icons of Viennese Art Nouveau.

1911-12 Moved to his new studio on Feldmühlgasse.

1912 "Avenue at the Palace Chamber at Lake Attersee" and "Adele Bloch Bauer II"

1915 "Unterach near Lake Attersee"

1916 "Death and Life", for which Gustav Klimt was awarded first prize in 1911 in Rome at the International Art Show, is reworked on Feldmühlgasse.

1917 "Adam and Eva"

1918 Death of Gustav Klimt.