Both famous and infamous, the characteristic golden figures of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt stand as a symbol of the modern artistic revolution 100 years after his death.
I was just 17 when I first met Gustav, and it was love at first sight. He captured my heart with the gleaming, vibrant colour and beauty of his paintings which spoke to me of life and love. I found him lying on a table amongst a loose pile of large books. It was a bound folio of paintings including The Kiss, Judith and Farm Garden with Sunflowers.
A painter, draftsman and radical, Klimt held a highly influential position in art and culture and was in demand as a portraitist to Viennese high society in the late nineteenth century. He was infamous in some circles because of his use of nudes in his paintings. The son of a gold engraver, Klimt is best known for his painting The Kiss (pictured above (c) Belvedere) which hangs on the walls of Prince Eugene’s Palace in Vienna, The Belvedere. Seeing his work in the flesh, standing before the picture, drinking in the richness of the gold detail was one of those moments for me which definitely lived up to my expectation.
It is more than 100 years since Gustav Klimt died aged 55 years in Vienna, but The Kiss remains a beacon for the romantic at heart and those who love his artistic style.
The Vienna Tourist Board dedicated 2018 to Viennese Modernism. It was not only Klimt’s death 100 years ago but also painters Egon Schiele, the architect Otto Wagner and the universal artist Koloman Moser. All around Vienna are exhibitions that show the impact of these modernists on the city.
Klimt at The Belvedere
The Belvedere has 24 works by Klimt which is the world’s largest collection of oil paintings by the artist. The collection includes two masterpieces from his Golden Period, Kiss (Lovers) and Judith, and major portraits (Sonja Knips, Fritza Riedler, and Johanna Staude.). There are also landscapes and allegorical depictions. You can also see one of Klimt’s sketchbooks and his monumental Beethoven Frieze at the Vienna Secession. Gustav Klimt’s masterpieces are on permanent display at the Upper Belvedere.
Considered one of the world’s finest Baroque landmarks, it is two palaces in one. The Upper and Lower Belvedere buildings were constructed in the 18th century as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) by Baroque architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt (1668-1745).
Disclaimer: Ed+bK visited Vienna in 2015 with the support of the Austrian National Tourist Office .