Gustav Klimt Blog

Klimt in the news – not again!


Feb 15 2012 10:49PM | by Staff Editor

With old Gustav’s 150th anniversary this year (he was born 1862-1918), it really is hard to escape the near daily headlines concerning Klimt or one of his many beautiful oil paintings. Yes, we know he was a fantastic painter who changed the course of art history. Yes, we know his paintings were erotic to the point that it was banned by the governments of the day. Yes, we know his paintings continue to sell for more money than the 99% of us will ever make in our lives (that last one is certainly comforting). So, it is with some glee that we can report the non-sale of a Klimt painting. Yes, a Klimt painting failed to sell at auction, and as we shall see, it was a little bit on the dull side. The Klimt painting in questions is known as Seeufer Mit Birken, or Lakeshore with Birches, an oil on canvas work measuring 90 by 90cm and painted in 1901. It failed to sell at Sotheby’s Modern and Impressionist art sale at the start of the month: the auction house estimated it from 6 to 8 million pounds sterling, but the high asking price definitely frightened off some buyers.... Read more

Klimt’s Golden Coins


Jan 22 2012 10:00PM | by Staff Editor

As we have mentioned in previous posts, the year 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt. The Austrian Symbolist painter’s birthday is being celebrated by a year of exhibitions, events and festivities throughout Austria, but focused on its capital Vienna. Along with exhibitions of his work throughout the year at some of the city’s most famous museums and galleries, there will be something of an artistic renaissance for the Austrian art scene, with other famous Austrian artists as well as contemporary Austrian artists, sharing the spotlight. Well, one very appropriate tribute to Klimt and his work is due to be issued on January 25th in Vienna – The Austrian Mint is producing a new series of five golden coins celebrating the life of the Art Nouveau master, the first of which will be unveiled next week. Of course, it isn’t the first time that Klimt’s image has been immortalised in gold. Back in 2003 an image of Klimt in his studio with two unfinished canvases resting on easels was shown on the obverse of a €100 Painting Gold Coin. Klimt’s Golden Phase was the most successful period of his illustrious career, both artistically and commercially, and... Read more

Klimt University Of Vienna Ceiling Paintings


Jan 10 2012 05:32PM | by Staff Editor

The Klimt University Of Vienna Ceiling Paintings, sometime referred to as the Faculty Paintings, are a series of three paintings that were created between 1900 and 1907 and which were destroyed by retreating Nazi forces in 1945. As the name of the series implies, they were created for the ceiling of the University Of Vienna Great Hall and each painting named after a specific theme – Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence. Klimt was initially commissioned to create the works in 1894, but unfortunately when he actually got around to completing the works the public reaction was so overwhelmingly negative, with the paintings being described as ‘pornography’ and ‘perverted excess’ that they never went on display at the University. Philosophy was the first of the three paintings to be completed, and Klimt presented it to the Austrian Government at the seventh Vienna Secession exhibition in 1900. The oil painting had already been awarded a gold medal at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris but sadly for Klimt, his work didn't receive such an enthusiastic welcome in his native Austria. The original brief that Klimt had received from the University stated that theme of the work should be ‘The victory of light over... Read more

We’re Going To Party Like It’s 1862


Dec 27 2011 02:07PM | by Staff Editor

With Christmas right here and the New Year just round the corner, there will be plenty of celebrating going on in the Austrian capital of Vienna, but the city has a special reason for looking forward to 2012, over and above the usual. For reasons that are mainly to do with the media’s all encompassing love of disaster, misfortune and prophetic calamity, the year 2012 has taken on a holy status of veneration and fear that hasn’t been seen since we all thought our computers were going to explode in the year 2000. For one group however, anticipation of 2012 has nothing to do with Mayan calendars and doomsday predictions, but rather because it will be a huge year for Austrian art and for cultural activities in the city of Vienna. Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was born in Vienna July of 1862, and the upcoming year will mark what would have been his 150th birthday. The significance of the date and of Klimt’s contributions to the Austrian art scene, and indeed all modern art, has not been lost on the arts community, and events and celebrations have been planned throughout the year, with many focused on the Austrian capital... Read more

Klimt’s Golden Phase


Dec 25 2011 09:26PM | by Staff Editor

In the life and career of Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, the artistic period now known as his Golden Phase coincided with a golden period in Klimt’s personal and professional life. His Golden Phase can be said to have begun in 1898 with the creation of his painting Pallas Athene followed by 1901’s Judith I, and it was to last for just over a decade until 1911. Many Klimt oil paintings stemming from this period featured prominent use of gold leaf and classic examples of this such as Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer I from 1907 and The Kiss, also from 1907, marked a high point in his oeuvre. Klimt’s exposure to gold began at an early age as the son of Ernst Klimt, a gold engraver from Bohemia. Despite his profession, Ernst Klimt and his family lived in poverty for most of Gustav’s childhood, with work being hard to come by for German migrants in Austria at the time. Whether his father’s profession had any influence over Klimt’s extensive use of gold in his later compositions is a matter of debate. Probably a stronger influencing factor was his interest as an adult in ancient Roman art and design that may... Read more

Looking for a steady investment? Paintings as a blue-Klimt investment


Nov 30 2011 06:16PM | by Staff Editor

Much fanfare was made back at the start of November with the sale of a Klimt painting, the 1915 Litzlberg on the Attersee, which sold for USD$40.4 million at a New York Sotheby’s auction. The circumstances were, admittedly, special – the painting had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II, and it was only given back to the original owner’s heirs this year. About 10 months prior another Klimt painting also went for a song and a half: the 1913 work Kirche in Casson (landschaft mit zypressen) or, the Church in Casson – Landscape with Cypresses. The 110cm by 110cm painting sold for a princely sum of $USD 46.4 million. What was so special about a church and cypress trees? The work managed to command such a high price because it is regarded by critics as one of the best examples of Klimt landscape paintings. The scene is of the village Cassone on Lake Garda in Italy, where Klimt studied for several months in 1913. During this time he painted only three oil paintings, spending ample amounts of time studying his scenes from the shore and even taking boat trips to ensure he had all the right perspectives.... Read more

Klimt painting sells for $40.4million and other updates


Nov 28 2011 07:59PM | by Staff Editor

A couple of posts back we discussed a recovered Klimt painting, which was stolen during World War II but finally returned after more than 50 years in the art wilderness. At the start of this month the painting was finally sold at a Sotheby’s New York auction of Impressionist and Modern Art for a huge sum of $40.4 million, nearly double its initial estimate. Titled Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee), it depicts a pastoral scene of wooded hills in the background, with the lake Attersee in the foreground and a bright sky embracing the rest of the canvas. The buyer wasn’t known, but we hope that one day the Klimt oil painting will be available for more public viewing. In other Klimt news, there’s a new book out about the life of hey-day Vienna, when Klimt produced much of his paintings. The writer is also a historian, lawyer, curator and director of the Centre of Climate Law and Policy at the Australian National University. Tim Bonyhady’s Good Living Street: Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900, retells the narrative of his family’s move and subsequent climb up the social order from middle-class Jewish immigrants to upper-class Vienna citizens.... Read more

Klimt artwork branches out to jewellery and diary cover


Oct 30 2011 11:00AM | by Staff Editor

We’re not sure if you’ve read the news about the young Russian spy who has slept with a veritable list of high ranking European diplomats and political figures, including a British MP who sits on the country’s defence committee. If you haven’t, we’d suggest googling Ekaterina Zatuliveter for the whole nine yards. The news has been all over the British and European press lately, but only a handful of reports have carried one titillating detail: Zatuliverter’s journal featured a Klimt painting on its cover. The press doesn’t name what Klimt oil painting it is, but the implications are clear. Is this a woman of unknown beauty, a seeming femme fatale with the sensual and sexual nous to seduce power-laden men? It would certainly appear so and once again, Klimt’s powerful link to female eroticism is shown, this time with a decisive association to the political nature of his artwork and its real world implications. In other news, the Neue Galerie New York for German and Austrian Art continues to produce extravagant Klimt inspired jewellery pieces for the art conscious and fashion inclined. Take for instance the Klimt Egyptian Eye Pendant Brooch, designed by Jessica Kagan Cushman in 2011 exclusively for... Read more

Gustav in 3-D, Gustav flees the NGV


Oct 18 2011 10:01AM | by Staff Editor

Austrian Gustav Klimt was one of the most important members of the Vienna Secession movement, producing hundreds of oil paintings, sketches and murals, most of which focused on the female body. In fact, the eroticism of Klimt paintings meant that some gallery exhibitions had to carry a warning of eroticism and the fact that it might not be suitable for minors. Is that censorship gone too far? What is considered pornography, or art? We’re not going to tackle that queasy question today, but we will look at two approaches to Klimt’s art. One is a new virtual tour available to enthusiasts; the other is a recap and the seeming plunge in popularity of Klimt at a regular exhibition. Let’s first take a look at an exciting new project from the team at kickstarter.com. With 2012 being the 150th year since Klimt was born, a group of young tech savvy artists decided to create a 360 degree virtual tour of Vienna, with none other than old Gustav in avatar form guiding you through the tour. What’s scary is that this is one step further into the world of sci-fi where holograms with complex Artificial Intelligence become as pivotal to humans as... Read more

Klimt paintings – newly discovered and inspiriting fashion


Oct 02 2011 12:00PM | by Staff Editor

Just when you thought you were safe from Klimt paintings going boo in the night, a previously unknown painting by the Austrian artist has been discovered in the Netherlands. The oil painting measures 90 centimetres by 90 centimetres and is entitled “Seeufer mit Birken” (lakeside with birch trees), a landscape painted in 1901. The Klimt painting was authenticated by deputy director of Austria’s Belvedere museum, Alfred Weidinger, with a further panel of experts now set to review it. The Dutch owner told Austrian media that his ancestors bought the painting at an exhibition in the western German town of Duesseldorf in 1902 – what a prescient purchase! In other news, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) has been referenced numerous times at the spate of fashion week events as clothing labels showcase their autumn collections, or summer collections, depending on your hemisphere. It’s in the north, however, that Klimt paintings and their subsequent fashionista inspirations are receiving airplay. At London’s Fashion Week, Rolling Stone interviewed indie darling Florence Welch for a quick blog post. Who does she reference as an inspiration for her recent change in style, and as an influence in the band’s latest album? No prizes for those who though Klimt.... Read more

Klimt’s Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee), for $25 mill


Sep 18 2011 06:52PM | by Staff Editor

Happen to have a spare $USD 25 million sitting around, and interested in some classic Gustav Klimt? Well, you’re in luck. This November 2 Sotheby’s New York will auction off a rare Klimt landscape at its Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale. The Klimt painting is the headline auction item: entitled Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) it captures a spectacular vision of the lush surroundings of Lake Attersee in western Austria, painted with the renowned Klimt jewel-like surface. Completed in 1915, the Klimt painting has a provenance worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. The Klimt painting was originally owned by the famous Austrian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl and his wife Paula, both passionate patrons of the arts. They counted among their friends composers Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoënberg, playwright Arthur Schnitzler and collectors such as Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer. The Zuckerkandls were well known, and entertained regularly at their famed home designed and built by the prominent architect Josef Hoffman. The Zuckerkandls died in 1927, and without children, their collection was partly sold, and partly passed on to Viktor’s extended family. The Klimt painting Litzlberg am Attersee entered the collection of his sister Amalie Redlich. This is where tragedy... Read more

Klimt paintings and being John Malkovich


Sep 04 2011 09:35PM | by Staff Editor

One of the many properties of the internet, as hailed by its proponents, is that the technology destroys the tyranny of distance and levels the field in terms of access to knowledge and the production of cultural values. To put it bluntly – it is a soapbox where the Average Joe can log on, create a blog or two, and comment on whatever may please him. So where does the opinion of the masses stand, especially in relation to movie reviews, Klimt paintings and John Malkovich? We are, of course, talking about the 2006 movie Klimt, which billed itself as a unique portrait of the lavish and sexual identity that the world knew as Gustav Klimt. If IMDB.com ratings are anything to go buy, Klimt has an average of 5 out of 10 stars, based on 40 reviews. It doesn’t fare much better at the tomatometer from Rotten Tomatoes – only 31% of audiences actually liked it. To be clear, the low ratings are a reflection of the movie themselves, rather than any Klimt paintings. So why was the movie so poorly reviewed? The writer and director behind the work was Raoul Ruiz (the Chilean-born filmmaker who also died recently,... Read more

Klimt versus Flynt for pornography honours?


Aug 08 2011 10:17AM | by Staff Editor

Sex sells. Always has, always will. This simply philosophy has brought wealth and fame to many, some in the public light, others in the shadows. American publisher Larry Flynt is one such individual: most noted for his publication of the adult magazine Hustler, Flynt has built a business empire and tied political and cultural issues into porn (particularly the First Amendment and issues of hypocrisy in Bill Clinton’s impeachment). But this controversy is not really new, either. Nearly 100 years before Flynt published his first Hustler the world was introduced to Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. A founding member and president of the Vienna Secession, Klimt’s paintings and drawings are known for his open eroticism. We’ll examine some here, and question just what divides the art label from porn. Klimt paintings are often distinguished by the artist’s use of coloured decoration and gold, along with complex renditions of spirals and swirls. There are also ongoing erotic motifs, such as phallic shapes, the nude female form and suggestive and erotic poses of the women. One of the most common themes he focused on was that of the femme fatale, or the dominant women. All these can be seen in some easily accessible... Read more

Degrees of Freedom: Gustav Klimt and how originality is overrated


Jul 24 2011 09:58PM | by Staff Editor

You may never find another image that evokes as powerful an amorous response as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Cartoonist Peter Duggan takes that image and injects an element of humor as part of the Guardian’s series of Artoons, the self proclaimed ‘weekly send-ups of the art world’. Call it a tribute, an homage, a copy, a sample, a flattering imitation, or a not-so-flattering theft… we are in a derivative world. Duggan’s cartoon, though flippant, relies on something familiar, and then extends. We dissect items, ideas, and images with the surgical proficiency of House MD… or was it ER, or Grey’s Anatomy, or Quincy, or Chicago Hope, or Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman? Multiplicity and immediacy rule the day. Remember that “vintage” transformer action figure you played with 20 years ago? People used to dig through hundreds of flea markets and thrift shops and garage sales to find a beat-up Optimus Prime with no tractor trailer and inexplicably two right fists. And then comb the junkyards to find a left fist. And be happy to do it! Now? If you want Optimus Prime, you can have any number of multiple varieties from hundreds of series – TV, comics, manga (there is a... Read more

Klimt paintings and The Stoclet Palace (Palais Stoclet in French, or Stocletpaleis in Dutch)


Jul 11 2011 11:56AM | by Staff Editor

Gustav Klimt is well known around the world for his sensual and erotic paintings of women. But what is less known is that Klimt participated in the interior decoration of the Stoclet Mansion, a private masterpiece commissioned by Belgian banker and engineer Adolphe Stoclet in 1901. The building is considered an architectural and artistic tour de force of the Art Noveau movement, which led to its listing on the UNESCO World Heritage Site for cultural importance. The history of this building starts with Adolphe Stoclet (1871-1949), who was born into a family of wealthy Belgian bankers. He initially rejected banking and became a civil engineer specialising in railroads, but the death of his father led Stoclet to join the family company Société Générale de Belgique. The company was one of Belgium’s largest and to this day exercises significant financial power. This was the source of Stoclet’s wealth, and later the key to the Mansion – he laid no boundaries on architect Josef Hoffmann, except telling him to spare no expense. The mansion literally had no budget. Artistically, Stoclet and his wife, Suzanne, understood and were active patrons of the avant garde art movement. Here Suzanne exerted a dynamic influence: she... Read more

Doll them up: three classics, including Klimt, become Barbies


May 24 2011 10:15AM | by Staff Editor

Australian actress Cate Blanchett once said: “You know you’ve made it when you’ve been moulded in miniature plastic”. She was referring to speculation that Mattel was considering a new Barbie doll based on her appearance and style (as opposed to the other famous Australian use of Barbie, echoed by Crocodile Dundee and ‘throwing another shrimp on the Barbie’). Ms Blanchett, however, is not quite as classic as the three most recently-released Barbie dolls. On April 23 Mattel unveiled three new, limited edition dolls at the annual New York Toy Fair. They were based on the classic artworks of the Mona Lisa, Starry Night and Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. They are known, fittingly, as the Fine Art Doll Collection. The dolls differ markedly from one another: Van Gogh’s Starry Night influences just the doll’s dress and fashion accessories, while da Vinci’s Mona Lisa doll and Klimt’s doll each look like the actual portrait subject, as well as dressing like them (Van Gogh’s Starry night model is more the traditional Barbie Blonde). Hats off to the Mattel designers, who skillfully replicated the Mona Lisa’s smile! But the clear winner of the three, if there was a beauty pageant,... Read more

Gustav Klimt and Hope


May 03 2011 09:21AM | by Staff Editor

Throughout the history of Western art, mothers and babies are favorite subjects for painters. Renaissance painters made their careers out of painting the Madonna and her child. These paintings highlighted the love between a mother and her child, while allowing the artist to subtly point out the fear that the Madonna would have about the pain and death the Christ would endure as an adult. While paintings of mothers and babies remained popular even when religious themes were no longer in vogue, pregnancy was often considered a taboo subject. Pregnant women were encouraged to hide their conditions and stay in "confinement" until the baby was born. Given this climate, it's no surprise that pregnant women rarely posed for paintings. If they weren't to leave their homes, they certainly wouldn't pose for paintings in a studio. Much of this changed in the early 1900s through the work of Gustav Klimt. Many Klimt paintings contain pregnant women, often shown partially or completely nude. Hope I painted in 1903 shows an extremely pregnant woman painted in the nude. Her belly is swollen, distended and uncomfortable. She clasps her hands underneath her chest and looks out at the viewer with a serene and calm... Read more

Maria Altmann, Heir of Famous Klimt Painting, Dies at Age 94


Apr 26 2011 11:02AM | by Staff Editor

By all accounts, Maria Altmann lived an extraordinary life. She was born in Vienna into a privileged family of art lovers, including her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, who was a patron of Gustav Klimt. Altmann grew up in a home full of art, with frequent access to many Klimt paintings, including the infamous portrait Klimt painted of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. This Klimt painting is extraordinary in and of itself. The model looks at us with a serene expression and parted lips, her alabaster skin outlined with highly decorated blocks of color and metallics. While there is no nudity here, common in so many Klimt paintings, the portrait has a sensual feel, and many peers of Adele Bloch-Bauer felt sure she had been romantically attached to Klimt. When Adele became ill, she suggested that her husband donate Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer to a local museum. Her husband instead displayed the portrait as part of a shrine he set up for Adele in his home after her death. Maria Altmann remembered the shrine as full of Klimt paintings and flowers. In 1938, when the Nazis entered Vienna, the family was forced to flee to the United States and leave their... Read more

Klimt Paintings Used to Lure Indian Tourists


Apr 10 2011 05:21PM | by Staff Editor

The Kiss by Klimt is one of the most famous oil paintings in the world. According to some estimates, each year over 800,000 people visit the Austrian museum where the painting by Gustav Klimt is housed. Austrian tourist ministers want to increase that number this summer, and are counting on the Indian tourist market to help make it happen. The Austrian National Tourist Office scheduled presentations in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to encourage tourists to visit Austria. Exhibitions of works by Egon Sciele are planned during the vacation season, and many other tourist attractions will be open for large groups. Touring a porcelain factory or crystal warehouse might make for fun vacation days, especially if entrance fees are discounted and rail passes are made affordable. The main draw for tourists, it may be argued, is Gustav Klimt. Klimt is, by far, one of the most famous of Austrian painters and paintings by Klimt are truly spectacular when seen close up and in person. Consider Three Ages of a Woman by Klimt. Here, the entire lifecycle is portrayed, from infant to elder. The forms tend to bend and swirl around each other, and are punctuated with bright dots of color and... Read more