Monday, October 17, 2011

In 2012 Austria will celebrate the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt

Klimt and the Birth of Modernism in Vienna

In 2012 one of Austria's greatest painters would have celebrated his 150th birthday: Gustav Klimt (1862–1918). His paintings, in particular The Kiss – one of the world's best-known images – are rightly seen as epitomizing the spirit of optimism that heralded the dawn of the modernist era.
Painting by Gustav Klimt: The Kiss
The Kiss, 1907/08
Beethoven Frieze by Gustav KlimtBeethoven Frieze (cut-out), 1902
Portrait of Fritza Riedler, 1906Fritza Riedler, 1906
Tea service by Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkst├Ątte, 1903
High culture of all genres gravitated towards Vienna at around 1900. Exciting and pioneering discoveries were being made in the world of literature, visual arts, architecture and music with an intensity hardly seen elsewhere. In 1910 Vienna had a population of two million, making it the world's fifth largest city and the uncontested cultural capital of Central Europe. Gustav Klimt's pictures reflect the artistic and scientific discoveries and developments that shaped the period. His oeuvre charts the course from the Ringstrasse era to the early days of abstraction: influenced by Hans Makart, the defining Viennese painter of the late 19th century, Klimt, his brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch accepted a number of commissions to decorate buildings on Vienna's showpiece Ringstrasse boulevard. The staircases of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Burgtheater are two outstanding examples of their work. Klimt's creative output and the style he developed in later years paved the way for his younger contemporaries, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

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