Gustav Klimt

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Gustav Klimt (photography by Anton Josef Trčka , 1913)

Gustav Klimt (*  July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten near Vienna , today 14th district ; †  February 6, 1918 in Vienna, 9th district ) was an important Austrian painter , one of the best-known representatives of Viennese Art Nouveau and founding president of the Vienna Secession .


The Theater of Taormina (ceiling painting in the Vienna Burgtheater, 1886–1888)
Fish Blood (1898)

Gustav Klimt was the son of from Bohemia originating gold engraver Ernst Klimt d. Ä. (1834 - July 1892) and Anna Rosalia Klimt b. Finster (1836 - February 1915). He was born as the second of seven children in what was then the Vienna suburb of Baumgarten No. 4 (today 14th district, Linzer Straße 247; the house where he was born was demolished in 1966). His brothers Ernst Klimt the Elder J. and Georg Klimt were also artists.

Klimt was supposed to learn his father's profession first, but received a scholarship so that from 1876 to 1883 he could study at the Vienna School of Applied Arts of the Imperial and Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry under Ferdinand Laufberger , Victor Berger , Ludwig Minnigerode , Karl Hrachowina and Michael Rieser . He lived (with interruptions) with his parents at 7th , Burggasse 47, and was there in Lehmann's address book as late as 1894.

In the 1880s, he and his brother Ernst (registered with Lehmann: Gebrüder Klimt ) and Franz Matsch formed a studio community run as an artist company , which Lehmann (see above) first appeared in 1888 at address 6 , Sandwirtgasse 8 and here to 1890 is mentioned; In 1888 the youngest of the three, Georg, had come of age. In 1888/1889 Klimt traveled to Krakow , Trieste , Venice and Munich . From 1891 on, the studio address of Compagnie 8. , Josefstädter Straße 21, appears (they worked in the garden pavilion of the house opposite the theater in der Josefstadt ).

The company designed, among other things, curtain and ceiling paintings for the theaters in Reichenberg , Karlsbad and in 1885 in Fiume , 1885 ceiling paintings in the Vienna Hermesvilla , 1886–1888 the ceiling frescoes in the two staircases of the new Burgtheater and in 1891/1892 the spandrel and intercolumn pictures in the staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and also the wall paintings of the Peleș Castle in Romania . While Matsch lived and worked in Döbling , the 19th district, after his marriage in 1895 (he appeared in Lehmann on Josefstädter Straße in 1896), Klimt was still working on Josefstädter Straße in 1910 after Lehmann.

In 1891 he became a member of the Cooperative of Visual Artists Vienna (Künstlerhaus) . In July 1892 his father died in July, his younger brother Ernst in December. He resigned from the Künstlerhaus on May 24, 1897 and was one of the founders of the Vienna Secession , of which he was first president from 1897 to 1899. He designed the metal doors for the Secession building erected by Josef Olbrich in 1897/1898. In 1898 the Secession held its first exhibition. For the Secession magazine Ver Sacrum (The Holy Spring) he provided numerous images and illustrations from 1898–1903.

In 1894, Gustav Klimt was commissioned by the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Education, together with Franz Matsch, to design the ceiling in the building of the newly built university with paintings. The theme "The victory of light over darkness" was planned. The individual faculties should be presented in the pictures applied to them. The so-called faculty pictures concerned medicine, philosophy, theology and jurisprudence. But since Klimt did not present the rational sciences and their useful work in the way that corresponded to conservative expectations in his designs, 87 faculty members rejected his proposals. The state-loyal press was also very critical. But since he was not ready, despite revisions, to celebrate the optimistic role of the sciences, the two artists broke up. After the Viennese scandal over the first picture, Philosophy , which was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition , Klimt was even less willing to compromise on medicine (1901) and jurisprudence than before. Matsch's painting Theology , however, was accepted and is still in the University of Vienna to this day. Karl Kraus , of Klimt's style apparently did not appreciate, defended in his magazine The torch rejection of the philosophy -Gemäldes by the professors and kolportierte the disparaging remark that the Paris of imported art nicknamed "goût juif" (Jewish taste) awarded to have. Klimt resigned from the ministry's assignment in 1905, returned the fee received with the help of private sponsors, and Koloman Moser and the Lederer family bought the designs back. All three pictures were outsourced during World War II and burned in Immendorf Castle ( Lower Austria ) in 1945 .

Beethoven Frieze: The Hostile Forces (1902)

1902 created Klimt occasion of the 14th Secession exhibition for the left side room of the Viennese Secession building (with the Beethoven statue Klinger) the Beethoven Frieze . The disputes that were conducted about it in the press were documented by Hermann Bahr , friend and advocate of Klimt, in the book Against Klimt , which appeared at the end of 1902 and collected newspaper clippings on Klimt's work. In 1903 the Secession showed 80 works by Klimt. In 1905 Klimt left the Secession with a group of artists, including Carl Moll , because some of his painter colleagues pursued a style that was too "naturalistic", including Josef Engelhart . Klimt's pictures were removed from the Secession building. In the same year Klimt became a member of the German Association of Artists .

Klimt was close friends with Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser , the founders of the Wiener Werkstätte . In 1904 Josef Hoffmann was entrusted with the design of a city palace for the Belgian industrialist Adolphe Stoclet in Brussels; the building went down in art history as the Palais Stoclet . Gustav Klimt was commissioned by Fritz Wärndorfer , Wiener Werkstätte, to design the frieze (so-called Stoclet frieze ) for the dining room of the palace. He began this work in 1905 with the production of work drawings (today's storage location: Museum for Applied Arts , Vienna), but changed the designs again in 1908. The inlay work carried out by Leopold Forstner's mosaic workshop was installed in 1911 in the presence of Klimt in Brussels (Klimt had forbidden public presentation in Vienna, but had shown the work of his friend Berta Zuckerkandl ).

In 1905, Klimt exhibited fifteen works in the second annual exhibition of the German Association of Artists in the newly opened exhibition house of the Berlin Secession on Kurfürstendamm and received the Villa Romana Prize . In 1906 Klimt traveled to Belgium and England and was made an honorary member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich . In 1908 he traveled to Florence .

The kiss (1907-1908)
Danae (1907-1908)

Between 1907 and 1908 Klimt's most famous painting, The Kiss, was created . It was shown at the Kunstschau Wien in 1908 and immediately bought by the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Culture and Education . The art show was organized by Klimt's group of artists, who had left the Secession, and by Josef Hoffmann in a temporary exhibition building that Hoffmann erected on the property of the later Vienna Konzerthaus .

In 1909 Klimt traveled to Paris , Madrid and Toledo , and in 1914 to Brussels . In 1912 he became president of the Association of Austrian Artists .

Exhibitions abroad testify to Klimt's importance in the art world of that time. He exhibited in 1908 in Prague and Dresden , in 1909 in Munich , and in 1910 at the IX. Biennale in Venice (where his works were enthusiastically received), 1911 in Rome (Klimt went to Rome and Florence on this occasion), 1912 again in Dresden, 1913 in Budapest , Munich and Mannheim , 1914 with the Association of Austrian Artists in Rome and 1916 with Schiele and Kokoschka in the federal exhibition in Berlin .

Klimt with a telescope on the Attersee (1905)
Kammer Castle on the Attersee (1908–1909)
The reconstructed studio in the "Klimt Villa"

From 1900 to 1916 Gustav Klimt was mainly on the Attersee in Upper Austria on summer vacation, especially to visit the villa of the master carpenter Friedrich Paulick . Most of his landscape paintings were created here. In Unterach am Attersee , a Klimt monument on the lakeshore reminds of this. After the studio in the Josefstädterstraße he used from 1911-12 a then single-storey building ( Vienna 13th , Feldmühlgasse 11; listed in Lehmann with number 9) in the Vienna district sub-St.-Veit , today as Klimt-Villa is called , as a place of work. When his residence, after he had not even appeared in Lehmann in 1911, the new studio address was recorded for the 1912 to 1915 issues, from the 1916 issue to Vienna 7. , Westbahnstraße 36, the apartment from which his mother Anna, engraver widow , "Died out" in early 1915.

The artist cultivated close relationships with some of his clients, most of whom came from the assimilated Jewish upper middle class in Vienna . He cultivated intimate relationships especially with his models from upper-class circles. He was considered progressive for his time because he allowed women an active role in sexuality.

Klimt was never married, but had intimate relationships with several women and fathered seven children (see section Klimt's Offspring). How far the relationships went with the women of his clients portrayed by him, such as Serena Lederer , August Lederer's wife , or Adele Bloch-Bauer , wife of the sugar industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer , is in the dark. Close, but not necessarily sexual, relationships also existed with Alma Mahler-Werfel . Emilie Flöge , for whose fashion salon Klimt designed reform clothes , is referred to as his partner.

Lady with a Fan (1917/18)

In 1917 the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Education refused to appoint Klimt professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (the first proposal was made in 1891), whereupon the Academy made him an honorary member on October 26, 1917.

Klimt's offspring

Klimt's descendants are:

  • Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt (1894–1944; mother was Serena Lederer 1867–1943). During the time of National Socialism she received a " descent notice ", through which the illegitimate paternity of the "Aryan" Gustav Klimt was officially confirmed, which presumably saved her life.
  • Gustav Ucicky , 1899–1961 (mother was Marie Ucicka 1880–1928)
  • Gustav Zimmermann, 1899–1976
  • Otto Zimmermann 1902 (mother was Maria "Mizzi" Zimmermann, 1879–1975)
  • Gustav Huber, 1912–1989
  • Christa Huber, 1914–1943
  • Wilhelm Huber, 1915–1943 (mother was Consuela Camilla Huber 1896–1978)


  • 1890: Imperial Prize of the Vienna Fine Arts Cooperative: Klimt received the prize, first awarded in 1890, in recognition of his watercolor in the auditorium in the old Burgtheater (the building was demolished).


Klimt's grave in the Hietzing cemetery ( location )

Gustav Klimt suffered a stroke on January 11, 1918 in his apartment on Westbahnstrasse in Vienna . He died on February 6, 1918 in the General Hospital , Vienna 9th , Alser Strasse 4, after contracting flu-like pneumonia there. He was buried in the Hietzinger Friedhof , like his last studio in the 13th district, in group 5, grave no. 194.


Klimt monument in Unterach am Attersee

Klimt's grave, dedicated in 1923 , is in the Hietzinger Friedhof (group 5, number 194) in Vienna 13th . The grave in which his parents and his brother Ernst are buried is in the Baumgartner Friedhof (group T, number 1929); the grave cross designed by Gustav Klimt was made by his brother Georg Klimt .

In 1924, Klimtgasse (12th and 13th district) in Vienna was named in his honor. In addition to Klimtgasse in Vienna, Klimtstrasse in Nuremberg , Gustav-Klimt-Strasse in Künzelsau and Gustav-Klimt-Weg in Hamburg were named after the painter.

The Klimt monument designed by Anton Hanak around 1927/1928 was not realized.

In 1928 the Secession organized a memorial exhibition for its first president. In 1932, the Post issued a series of stamps which, alongside Klimt, celebrated Rudolf von Alt, Albin Egger-Lienz , Hans Makart , Moritz von Schwind and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller as iconic Austrian painters. In 1943, at the instigation of Reich Governor Baldur von Schirach, a Klimt exhibition was held in the Secession, at which a third of the works on display consisted of Nazi-looted art . In 1962, the Belvedere and Albertina organized an exhibition to mark Klimt's 100th birthday.

The film director Gustav Ucicky is considered to be his illegitimate son, Elisabeth Bachofen-Echt (see above) was recognized as Klimt's illegitimate daughter during the Nazi era. Ucicky collected works by his presumed father and was able to significantly increase his collection, especially during the Nazi regime, which also involved looted art . His widow Ursula Ucicky established the non-profit “Gustav Klimt | Vienna 1900 - Privatstiftung ”( Klimt Foundation for short ), into which she contributed four oil paintings (two of them: see list of works), ten drawings and autographs by Klimt, including foundation capital. The purpose of the foundation expressly mentions the provenance research of the works. The director of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere and individual organs of the Leopold Museum were irritated by the establishment of the foundation. I.a. the commercial director of the Leopold Museum acts as an honorary board member of the Klimt Foundation.

On April 26, 1989, the Austrian 500 Schilling Gustav Klimt commemorative coin appeared in silver with an edition of 350,000 pieces, the designer was the chief engraver of the Austrian Mint . On the front there is a portrait of Klimt and his signature . The reverse shows an image of his Judith .

In 2003 the "Klimt am Attersee" theme trail was set up by the Attersee-Attergau association and the Leopold Museum Vienna . Rentable audio guides complement ten steles with rotating picture boards on the waterfront in Kammer and Seewalchen. The path is flat and wheelchair accessible.

On November 5, 2003, the Austrian 100 euro gold coin Gustav Klimt appeared with the image of him on the work of art, on the reverse is shown "The Kiss".

In 2007, the asteroid (16445) Klimt was named after Klimt, who was discovered in 1989 by Eric Walter Elst .

In 2012, Austrian Mint started the Klimt and his women series , in which the following 50 euro gold coins have been issued to date: Adele Bloch Bauer (2012), The Expectation (2013), Judith II (2014), Medicine (2015).

On July 14, 2012, the Gustav Klimt Center opened at the north (east) end of the Attersee. Headed by the Klimt Foundation since 2015, a documentary on Klimt's work in the summers of 1910–1916 on the Attersee is presented here at Hauptstrasse 30, 4861 Schörfling am Attersee, in a building at the beginning of the lime tree avenue - painted by him - at Schloss Kammer - in the places Litzlberg , Kammer and Weißenbach .

Works (selection)

This list contains 25 works by Klimt, which represent a representative cross-section of his painterly work.

image title When originated Size, material Exhibition / collection / owner
Gustav Klimt - Lady with a Purple Scarf - around 1895 - Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.jpg
Lady with purple scarf 1895 67 × 41.2 cm, oil on canvas Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna
Klimt - Pallas Athene.jpeg
Pallas Athene 1898 75 × 75 cm, oil on canvas Vienna Museum
Klimt - Portrait of Sonja Knips.jpeg
Portrait of Sonja Knips 1898 145 × 145 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Klimt - Nuda Veritas - 1899.jpeg
Nuda Veritas 1899 252 × 55.2 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Theater Museum , Vienna
Gustav Klimt 039.jpg
Judith I 1901 84 × 42 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Klimt, Goldfische.jpg
goldfish 1901-1902 181 × 66.5 cm, oil on canvas Solothurn Art Museum
Beethoven Frieze4.jpg
Beethoven Frieze (Part of the mural) 1902 73 m², wall painting Vienna Secession Building
Gustav Klimt 049.jpg
Portrait of Emilie Flöge 1902 181 × 84 cm, oil on canvas Vienna Museum
Gustav Klimt - Gerta Loew - 1902.jpeg
Portrait of Gertrud Löw 1902 149.5 × 45 cm, oil on canvas Privately owned
Gustav Klimt 067.jpg
Water snakes I. 1904-1907 50 × 20 cm, mixed media with gold plating on parchment Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Gustav Klimt 055.jpg
Portrait of Margarethe Stonborough-Wittgenstein 1905 180 × 90 cm, oil on canvas New Pinakothek , Munich
The Three Ages of Woman.jpg
The three ages of a woman 1905 180 × 180 cm, oil on canvas Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna , Rome
Gustav Klimt 046.jpg
Adele Bloch-Bauer I. 1907 138 × 138 cm, oil on canvas New Gallery , New York City
Gustav Klimt 010.jpg
Danae 1907 77 × 83 cm, oil on canvas Private ownership, Vienna
The Kiss - Gustav Klimt - Google Cultural Institute.jpg
The kiss 1908-1909 180 × 180 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Gustav Klimt, Judith II.jpg
Judith II 1909 178 × 46 cm, oil on canvas Ca 'Pesaro , Venice
Gustav Klimt 068.jpg
Avenue to Schloss Kammer or avenue in the park in front of Schloss Kammer 1912 110 × 110 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Klimt apple tree I.jpg
Apple tree I. 1912 110 × 110 cm, oil on canvas Privately owned
Gustav Klimt 047.jpg
Adele Bloch-Bauer II 1912 190 × 120 cm, oil on canvas Sold by Oprah Winfrey to a Chinese for $ 150 million in 2017.
Klimt - Portrait Eugenia Primaesi.jpg
Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi 1912-1913 140 × 84 cm, oil on canvas Toyota Municipal Museum of Art
The Virgin 1913 200 × 190 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery Prague
Gustav Klimt 028.jpg
Church in Unterach am Attersee 1916 110 × 110 cm, oil on canvas Privately owned
Gustav Klimt - Lady with a Fan.jpeg
Lady with a fan 1917 100 × 100 cm, oil on canvas Privately owned
Gustav Klimt 054.jpg
Portrait of Johanna Staude (unfinished) 1917-1918 70 × 50 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna
Gustav Klimt 001.jpg
Adam and Eve (unfinished) 1917-1918 173 × 60 cm, oil on canvas Austrian Gallery Belvedere , Vienna

Other works

Cottage garden with sunflowers , 1907, Belvedere , Vienna
Roman and Venetian Quattrocento , Greek Antiquity and Egypt , Old Italian Art , Florentine Cinquecento and Quattrocento
  • Marie Breunig ( Vienna , private collection ), 1894, oil on canvas, 155 × 75 cm
  • Die Musik ( Munich , Neue Pinakothek ), 1895, oil on canvas, 37 × 44.5 cm
  • Stoclet frieze (Brussels, dining room in Palais Stoclet );
  • Design drawings for the Stoclet frieze ( Museum of Applied Arts (Vienna) )
  • Marie Henneberg Halle , Moritzburg Art Museum , 1902, oil on canvas, 140 × 140 cm
  • Buchenwald ( Dresden , Galerie Neue Meister ), 1902, oil on canvas, 100 × 100 cm
  • Das Leben ein Kampf (The Golden Knight) ( Nagoya , Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art), 1903, oil on canvas, 100 × 100 cm
  • Rising Thunderstorm (Vienna, Leopold Museum ), 1903, oil on canvas, 100 × 100 cm
  • Hope I (1903) ( Ottawa , National Gallery of Canada ), 1903, oil on canvas, 181 × 67 cm
  • Hermine Gallia ( London , National Gallery ), 1904, oil on canvas, 170.5 × 96.5 cm
  • Water snakes II (girlfriends) , 1904-07, oil on canvas, 80 × 145 cm
  • Cottage garden with sunflowers (Vienna, Belvedere), 1907, oil on canvas, 110 × 100 cm
  • Fritza Riedler (Vienna, Belvedere), 1906, oil on canvas, 153 × 133 cm
  • Mohnblumenwiese (Vienna, Belvedere), 1907, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm
  • Hope II (1907) (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art), 1907, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm
  • Death and Life (Vienna, Leopold Museum), 1908–11, oil on canvas, 178 × 198 cm
  • Field in Bloom ( Pittsburgh , Carnegie Museum of Art ), 1909, oil on canvas, 100.5 × 100.5 cm
  • The Park (New York, Museum of Modern Art ), 1909/10, oil on canvas, 110.5 × 110.5 cm
  • Farmhouse in Buchberg (Vienna, Belvedere), 1911/12, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm
  • Italian Garden Landscape (Zug, Kunsthaus Zug ), 1913, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm
  • Church in Cassone , 1913, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm
  • Mäda Gertrude Primavesi (also called "Mäda") (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) 1912–13; Oil on canvas, 149.9 × 110.5 cm
  • Litzlberg am Attersee , 1914, oil on canvas, 110 × 110 cm, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg
  • Garden landscape with a hilltop (parish garden) , (Zug, Kunsthaus Zug), 1916, oil on canvas 110 × 110 cm
  • Friederike Maria Beer ( Tel Aviv-Jaffa , Museum of Art), 1916, oil on canvas, 168 × 130
  • Ria Munk III , 1917/18, oil on canvas, 180 × 128
  • Baby (private property), 1917/18, oil on canvas, 110 × 110
  • The bride (unfinished) , oil on canvas, 165 × 191 cm, Gustav Klimt | Vienna 1900 private foundation (Klimt Foundation), permanent loan from Belvedere, Vienna

Other works by Klimt are owned by the Art Institute of Chicago , the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Artistic classification

Gustav Klimt was one of the most controversial but also most popular artists of the turn of the century during his lifetime. In addition to his extraordinary talent for drawing, he impressed, among other things, with the depiction of complex image content in which erotic female figures often served as expressions of human life contexts and feelings such as hope, love and death. The painter was wanted by Viennese society because of the erotic charisma of his female portraits.

The following section is intended to provide an overview of Klimt's different creative phases. The selected examples only provide a rough, by no means complete, stylistic overview.

Klimt's oldest surviving pictures include studies in the style of historicism from 1879 and 1880. In terms of motif and execution, they show great attention to detail and resemblance to works by his colleague Franz Matsch.

In the years 1886–1891, during which monumental works for the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna were created, an inspiration from antiquity and the style of Lawrence Alma-Tadema can be seen. If one compares Klimt's theater in Taormina with Alma-Tadema's Pompeian scene , the analogies become particularly clear: Aulos player, two recumbent men (one bald, the other with dark hair), ancient statuettes. The depiction of Beatrice in the right gusset painting of old Italian art is an early example of the separation of plastically painted body parts and flat, decorative elements. This artistic design principle is characteristic of Klimt's later Art Nouveau works.

The resulting 1896 draft Supra Port image Schubert at the piano is considered the first example of Klimt's creative period in the painting style of Impressionism . A series of seated portraits of women such as Young Woman in an Armchair (1896), Portrait of a Lady (1897), Lady at the Fireplace (1897/98), Lady in an Armchair (1897/98) and the portrait of Sonja Knips (1898 ) also date from this period ). Klimt was probably inspired here by Whistler's mother and works by Fernand Khnopff .

The gold backgrounds that Klimt used on multiple images from the mid-1890s, they recall the Japonismus about to Ogata Kōrin , a Japanese painter of the 17th century. The use of gold becomes characteristic of Klimt.

The founding of the Vienna Secession in 1897, modeled on the Munich Secession , ushered in the Art Nouveau period and is therefore the most important turning point in Klimt's artistic life. In his works around the turn of the century, there are clear influences from artists such as Franz von Stuck and Jan Toorop , among others . For example, Klimt's depiction of women's hair is similar to that in Toorop's pictures. Klimt's Judith I seems to be inspired by Stuck's sin . The position of the two bodies in Klimt's Water Snakes I roughly corresponds to that in The Depths of the Sea (1887) by Edward Burne-Jones .

Klimt's style was characterized by the inclusion of Nuda Veritas as a symbolic figure in some of his works of art towards the end of the 19th century, including Pallas Athene (1898) and Nuda Veritas (1899). Klimt's first Nuda-Veritas was an illustration for the magazine Ver sacrum (March 1898 issue). A model for Klimt's portrayal of Nuda Veritas was probably his own Isis in Egypt's gusset (1891). Art historians assume that Klimt's Nuda Veritas denounces both the politics of the Habsburgs and the ignorance of Austrian society. The aristocracy and the bourgeoisie have closed their eyes to domestic and foreign policy problems and have instead tried to cover up the truth with historical pomp and festivities .

After the scandal surrounding the faculty pictures , Klimt no longer accepted public contracts and devoted himself to portrait and landscape painting. Klimt achieves the striking compression and two-dimensional effect of numerous landscape images by using a telescope to bring selected, distant landscape sections up close.

Klimt is undoubtedly the most important Art Nouveau artist in Austria, but also occupies a leading position on an international scale. Nevertheless, in the German-language art criticism of the first half of the 20th century, his work was sometimes completely ignored or dismissed as pure decorative painting. It was only later that its static two-dimensionality and its ornamental abstraction were recognized as pointing the way for the development of modern painting ( cubism , abstract painting). In addition, he promoted young artists such as Egon Schiele or Oskar Kokoschka and thus made another important contribution to the development of modernism.

Klimt was one of the preferred selection of contemporary artists that the “Committee for the Procurement and Evaluation of Stollwerck Pictures” suggested to the Cologne chocolate producer Ludwig Stollwerck to commission them with drafts.

In 1964, his works were shown in the hand drawings department at documenta III in Kassel .

The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I , with proceeds of 135 million US dollars, is one of the most expensive paintings in the world (see list of the most expensive paintings ).


In 1963, the Albertina Museum in Vienna began researching Gustav Klimt's drawings. The Gustav Klimt research project . The drawings have since been associated with intensive exhibition and publication activities.

Between 1980 and 1984 Alice Strobl published the three-volume catalog of works , which records and describes all of Gustav Klimt's drawings known at the time in chronological order. In 1989 an additional supplement was published. In the following year Alice Strobl transferred her work to the art historian and curator Marian Bisanz-Prakken , who has assisted her in identifying and classifying the works since 1975 and continues the research project to this day. Since 1990, Marian Bisanz-Prakken has redefined, documented and scientifically processed around 400 additional drawings.

This makes the Albertina Vienna the only institution in the world that has been studying and scientifically categorizing the artist's works for half a century. The research project now includes information on over 4,300 works by Gustav Klimt.

Klimt in film and musical

Gustav Klimt and his works became the subject of films and a musical:

Klimt on the art market

Works by Gustav Klimt are regularly offered on the art market and achieve top prices. The painting Farmer's Garden from 1907 was sold at a London auction in 2017 and, at £ 47.9 million, is not only the artist's most expensive landscape painting, but also the third most expensive work of art ever sold in Europe.

Gustav Klimt's paintings were also not spared from forgeries . Since 2000, supposed works by the artist have been appearing in auctions with increasing frequency. In 2012, for example, a supposed Klimt painting attracted attention in Austria, but in 2018 it turned out to be fake.

However, works on paper by the artist are more common than paintings on the art market. The art market database Artprice lists 66 auction entries for paintings, but 1533 for drawings and watercolors. The most expensive drawing sold to date was "Reclining Girl Nude Left," which was created between 1914 and 1915 and sold in London in 2008 for £ 505,250.

However, the majority of the art trade traditionally takes place through galleries such as W&K - Wienerroither & Kohlbacher , which specialize in the trade in original works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele and which regularly present them in monographic exhibitions and international trade fairs.

Restitution cases

Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907)
Apple tree I (1912)

The National Socialist regime withdrew many works of art from the rightful owners. The restitution after 1945 was very incomplete in Austria. When the children and grandchildren of the dispossessed demanded their rights in the 1990s and this was given massive political support by the USA , a rethink had to be made. In 1998 Austria passed a restitution law , against which, however, some public art collections put up persistent resistance. Since Gustav Klimt was now one of the world's most famous artists, the question of the restitution of some of his works from the Belvedere in Vienna was a very media-effective topic.

In the years 2001 to 2004 five Klimt works from the Belvedere were returned to the heirs of the Nazi regime expropriated owners:

  • Apfelbaum II , handed over to the heirs in Nora Stiasny in 2001; shortly after the return, doubts arose as to whether this picture was not the property of August Lederer and Serena Lederer . These ambiguities were discussed in 2015.
  • Lady with a feather boa , handed over to the heirs of Hermine Lasus in 2001
  • Farmhouse with birch trees , handed over to the heirs of Hermine Lasus in 2001
  • Landhaus am Attersee , 1914, 2001 handed over to the heirs of Jenny Steiner
  • Portrait of a lady , given to Bernhard Altmann's heirs in 2004

A six-year legal dispute sparked five Klimt paintings in 1999, which had been confiscated by the National Socialist authorities from the property of the Bloch-Bauer family and given to the Belvedere in 1941. After 1945 the gallery believed that it was in legal possession of the pictures, since Adele Bloch-Bauer, portrayed twice by Gustav Klimt , had asked her husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer , in her will in 1925, to transfer “their pictures” to the “Austrian Staatsgalerie in Wien ”. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, however, regarded the pictures as his property, not as that of his late wife, which he would have inherited. The Bloch-Bauer family had to flee after the "Anschluss" of Austria ; the pictures left behind were confiscated. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer died in exile in Switzerland in 1945 without the previously re-established Austrian state having offered him the return of his paintings.

When the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer portrayed by Klimt, Maria Altmann , as spokeswoman for Bloch-Bauer's heirs, demanded the return of the pictures decades later, Education Minister Elisabeth Gehrer refused to negotiate. Since the heirs would have had to pay enormous court fees for civil proceedings against the Republic of Austria, they sought a different form of legal finding.

In January 2006 the five paintings were awarded to the heirs on the basis of the judgment of an arbitration tribunal. On February 2, 2006, the Republic of Austria, represented by Ms. Gehrer, waived its right of first refusal to purchase the pictures at an estimated price of 300 million US dollars. These were the following paintings:

  • Adele Bloch-Bauer I , known as "Golden Adele", 1907, on June 19, 2006 by Ronald S. Lauder as part of a private sale for the Neue Galerie in New York, according to unofficial information from the "New York Times" for 135 Million US dollars (106.7 million euros), acquired from heirs. At the time, this was “the highest price ever paid for a painting”. The picture was then exhibited in Lauder's “New Gallery”.
  • Adele Bloch-Bauer II , 1912, bought on November 8, 2006 by an anonymous bidder by telephone at one of Christie's largest auctions in New York for 87.936 million US dollars (68.8 million euros) including bids. At the time, it was the fifth highest price ever paid for a painting. In a resale eleven years later, the bidder came to be known as Oprah Winfrey .
  • Buchenwald / Birkenwald , 1903, was also bought at the auction on November 8, 2006 for 33.056 million US dollars (25.9 million euros).
  • Apple Tree I , 1912, raised $ 40.336 million (EUR 31.6 million) at the same Christie's auction.
  • Houses in Unterach am Attersee , around 1916, were also bought by a lady in the hall at the Christie's auction on November 8, 2006 for 31.376 million US dollars (24.6 million euros).

The latter four paintings fetched a total of 192.731 million US dollars (150.9 million euros) at the auction on November 8, 2006. Together with the “Golden Adele” that was 327.7 million US dollars (257.6 million euros).

For more on Ursula Ucicky's Klimt pictures, see the afterlife section.


Posters for the Klimt exhibition 2012 at the Wien Museum

In 2012, Gustav Klimt's 150th birthday was celebrated in Vienna with numerous exhibitions:

  • Lower Belvedere , October 25, 2011 to March 4, 2012: Gustav Klimt / Josef Hoffmann. Modern pioneers
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum , February 14 to May 6, 2012: Gustav Klimt in the Museum of Art History
  • Leopold Museum , February 24 to August 27, 2012: Gustav Klimt in person - pictures, letters, insights
  • Albertina , March 14 to June 10, 2012: Gustav Klimt. The painting
  • MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, March 21 to July 15, 2012: Gustav Klimt: Expectation and Fulfillment. Drafts for the mosaic frieze in the Palais Stoclet
  • Secession , March 23 to November 4, 2012: Platform by Gerwald Rockenschaub ( view Klimt's Beethoven frieze at eye level)
  • Austrian Theater Museum , May 10 to October 29, 2012: Against Klimt. The Nuda Veritas and her defender Hermann Bahr
  • Wien Museum , May 16 to September 16, 2012: Klimt. The collection of the Wien Museum
  • Künstlerhaus , July 6 to September 2, 2012: Gustav Klimt and the Künstlerhaus
  • Upper Belvedere , July 12, 2012 to January 27, 2013: 150 years of Gustav Klimt
  • Austrian Museum of Folklore , May 25 to October 14, 2012: Objects in focus: Emilie Flöge's textile pattern collection
  • Secession, November 22, 2012 to January 2013: Sound installation by Susan Philipsz for the Beethoven frieze


Web links

Commons : Gustav Klimt  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gottfried Fliedl: Gustav Klimt 1862–1918. Benedikt Taschen Verlag, Cologne 1994, p. 77 ff.
  2. No. 41, mid-May 1900, p. 18 f.
  3. ^ Full members of the German Association of Artists since it was founded in 1903 / Klimt, Gustav. ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) at: , accessed on September 14, 2015.
  4. Tobias G. Natter: Biography. In: Tobias G. Natter, Gerbert Frodl (ed.): Klimt and the women. DuMont, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-7701-5370-7 , p. 253.
  5. a b c Tim Ackermann: Beauty and Abyss. In: Weltkunst. Special publication by ZEIT Weltkunst Verlag, autumn 2017, p. 6.
  6. Klimtstraße in 90455 Nuremberg ,
  7. Klimtstraße (Nuremberg) ,
  8. Gustav-Klimt-Straße in 74653 Künzelsau ,
  9. Gustav-Klimt-Straße, Künzelsau ,
  10. Monika Sommer , Alexandra Steiner-Strauss: The lust, the addiction, the strength. In: The press . Vienna, January 28, 2012.
  11. Thomas Trenkler: Klimt's "Wasserschlangen II" sold abroad. on: , Vienna, from September 24, 2013.
  12. Olga Kronsteiner: When Klimt & Co donated. on ' , Vienna, from September 27, 2013.
  13. Matthias Dusini: The million train. In: Falter . No. 40, Vienna, October 2, 2013, pp. 28–29.
  14. ↑ Complete list of Schilling coins from 1947 to 2001 ( Memento of February 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Österreichische Nationalbank, p. 34.
  15. Euro coins in Austria. Nationalbank, p. 32 OeNb PDF ( Memento from February 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  16. Klimt and his women - told through coins . In: Coin Week. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  17. Klimt and his women. Article on the official website of Austrian Mint. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  18. ^ Purpose of the Gustav Klimt Foundation | Vienna 1900 Private Foundation (Klimt Foundation) was founded in September 2013 by Ursula Ucicky (* 1922), widow of the film director and Klimt's illegitimate son Gustav Ucicky (1899–1961). Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Message from ORF dated February 9, 2017
  20. a b Georg Leyrer: 150 million dollars for Klimt restituted from the Belvedere - to Oprah Winfrey , on the website of the daily newspaper Kurier on February 10, 2017
  21. Gustav Klimt. 150 years. Pages 32–35. Book on the occasion of the anniversary exhibition in the Belvedere , Vienna, July 13, 2012 to January 6, 2013, edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Alfred Weidinger . ISBN 978-3-901508-92-9 .
  22. Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Decadence & Antiquity. Article on the exhibition at the Belvedere , Vienna, February 24, 2017 to June 18, 2017.
  23. Guido Messling: Point of View # 9. Gustav Klimt - Lady with a Purple Scarf. Chapter early work or transitional work? Ed. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2014, p. 9.
  24. An orgiastic dream. Article by Esther Knorr-Anders in Die Zeit Online . March 18, 1983.
  25. Sin and Secession. Franz von Stuck in Vienna. Article by Alexander Klee on the exhibition of stucco works in the Lower Belvedere in Vienna (July 1 to October 9, 2016). Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  26. Against Klimt: Fallen many are bad. Article of the courier, May 12, 2012.
  27. ^ Nuda Veritas, Gustav Klimt. Article on the website of the Austrian Theater Museum .
  28. Jane Rogoyska, Patrick Bade: Gustav Klimt. Parkstone International, 2012, p. 30 Book preview on Google , ISBN 1-906981-22-1 .
  29. ^ Art - Life: 150 Years of Gustav Klimt
  30. Detlef Lorenz: Advertising art around 1900. Artist lexicon for collecting pictures. Reimer, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-496-01220-X .
  31. Gustav Klimt. The painting. Retrieved June 17, 2019 .
  32. Bisanz-Prakken, Marian, 1947-, Schröder, Klaus Albrecht., Cuno, James B., Graphic Collection Albertina., J. Paul Getty Museum .: Gustav Klimt: the drawings . Ed .: Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Gunhild Bauer. Hirmer, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7774-4951-7 , pp. 304 ( [accessed June 17, 2019]).
  33. Reuters Editorial: Klimt painting sells for $ 59 million at record-breaking London auction . In: US ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  34. Telegraph Reporters: £ 48m: Gustav Klimt's Bauerngartern becomes third most expensive painting in European history after auction at Sotheby's . In: The Telegraph . March 1, 2017, ISSN  0307-1235 ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  35. fakes. Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  36. False Art on the Internet: A "Klimt" for a hundred euros . In: The press . ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  37. ↑ A garage found in Upper Austria is not a Klimt - Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  38. Thierry EHRMANN: Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918): Auction sales, auction prices, indices and biography of Gustav KLIMT - Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  39. The world of art online - art and design on artnet. Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  40. Gustav Klimt auction result for Reclining Female Nude Facing Left. Sotheby's, June 26, 2008, accessed July 26, 2018 .
  41. Shellie Karabell: Just How Big Is The Art Market? Leaders Do Some Serious Numbers-Crunching . In: Forbes . ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  42. ^ Gustav Klimt Retrospective at Shepherd W&K Galleries, New York | Artinfo . In: Artinfo . ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  43. ^ W & K Wienerroither & Kohlbacher - Tefaf. Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  44. ^ What to look out for at TEFAF New York Spring | Apollo Magazine . In: Apollo Magazine . April 30, 2018 ( [accessed July 26, 2018]).
  45. Thomas Trenkler: Enigmatic apple tree. In: Tageszeitung Kurier , Vienna, July 5, 2015, p. 37, and under the title The enigmatic apple tree on the paper's website
  46. Olga Kronsteiner: Klimt painting: The ignored fourth apple tree. In: The Standard. Vienna, online July 7, 2015, and print July 8, 2015, p. 18.
  47. Hubertus Czernin : The forgery. 2 volumes. Czernin-Verlag, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-7076-0000-9 .