6 essential Klimt paintings

6 essential Klimt paintings

From the bible to mythology to Viennese society, Musement shares six essential works painted by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt.

Vienna is probably just as famous for Klimt as it is for its coffee houses. A symbolist painter and a bastion of the Vienna Secession movement, Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) is one of the most celebrated Austrian artists. Known for pushing boundaries, Klimt received a full scholarship to Vienna’s prestigious University of Applied Arts where he was classically trained. As his career progressed, he began to deviate from his conservative foundation and developed his own style, one that made use of gold and geometry.

While his sensational paintings are whimsical and imaginative masterpieces, Klimt’s work also attested to his love for women. He had countless lovers and fathered 14 children in his lifetime, and his females are sensual, erotic, and even mysterious. Here’s a look at six essential Klimt paintings.

1. The Kiss, 1907-08

This tender painting captures a couple in the middle of a flower field, the woman facing the viewers, her eyes closed to maximize the sensation of her lover’s lips on the cheek. Her head is cradled in his hands and she has one arm over his shoulder. It’s so beautiful and intimate that you almost feel like a voyeur. There’s gold, silver and platinum, and plenty of geometric shapes like swirls and rectangles. Where: Belvedere Palace in Vienna

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By the time this is all over, we'll all be keen to move around. There are so many beautiful corners of the planet to explore. This post, along with many others will hopefully give you some great ideas for your next vacation. ⁠ ⁠ Known for his decorative style and rebellious subjects, Gustav Klimt is one of Austria’s most influential figures and history’s most famous artists. ⁠ ⁠ Klimt’s well-known technique of gold leaves in paintings like The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer I, has transcended time and inspired countless others. His work can be found in several museums throughout Vienna and is not to be missed!⁠ ⁠ DM or email me today to learn more about where to see Gustav Klimt’s work on your next trip to Vienna.⁠ ⁠ #GustavKlimt #art #history #TheKiss #AdeleBlochBauerI #GoldenPhase #painting #returntotravel #readytotravel #backtotravel ⁠

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2. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1903-07

This painting warrants an article in and of itself. In fact, it’s the focus of an entire film, em>The Woman in Gold (2015). Pilfered by the Nazis and then claimed by Austria as its own, the painting was the subject of a nearly decade-long lawsuit between Maria Altmann, the niece of this portrait’s subject, and the Republic of Austria. Altmann eventually won her case and sold the work, which is now on display at the Neue Galerie in New York. (Note: MoMA is home to Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II.)

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Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I" (1907) remains permanently on view at Neue Galerie New York in the Klimt Gallery. In this painting, one of the artist's greatest achievements, gold is used in a variety of contexts, from the lustrous background to the shining fabric of Adele's gown. The subject seems to become one with her glowing surroundings, yet a distinctive figure emerges from the profusion of decorative motifs. Adele appears as a modern, complex woman, her intelligence as evident as her sensuality. Her hands are folded in such a way as to conceal a deformed finger, yet the gesture only adds to her mysterious grace. – Throughout September, museum entry to Neue Galerie New York has been pay what you wish. Join us on these final days to take advantage of this limited time offer, ending September 30. During this time, the galleries are open to visitors on a limited basis, as installation is underway. We have been preparing for our next special exhibition, “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,” opening October 3. – Gustav Klimt, "Adele Bloch-Bauer I," 1907, oil, silver, and gold on canvas. Neue Galerie New York. Acquired through the generosity of Ronald S. Lauder, the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer, and the Estée Lauder Fund. – #NeueGalerie #NeueGalerieNY #WomenInGold #GustavKlimt #PayWhatYouWish

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3. Danaë, 1907

Who better to depict the mythological figure who Zeus impregnated via gold rain than an artist renowned for his Golden Period? Klimt depicted Danaë sleeping nude, in somewhat of a fetal position while Zeus descends upon her in the form of gold coins—definitely one of the artist’s most erotic. She looks so peaceful sleeping that again, the painting makes you feel a bit voyeuristic. Where: Galerie Wurthle in Vienna

4. Judith and the Head of Holofernes, 1901

From mythology to the bible. Several artists such as Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi have portrayed this scene, and Klimt chose to depict it in his signature style: with lots of gold and an emphasis on the woman—so much so that just a small section of Holofernes’ head makes it into the photo. If you recognize her face, it’s because said Adele Bloch-Bauer modeled for Judith. Where: The Belvedere in Vienna

5. Three Ages of Woman, 1905

This poignant painting depicts three different females in three different phases of life, thus representing the circle of life: a woman holding her baby daughter while an elderly woman stands beside them. The work features an element of tenderness as well. Where: Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome

6. Beethoven Frieze, 1901-02

Klimt painted what was supposed to be temporary work in honor of its namesake composer for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition. Lucky for all Klimt admirers, it’s part of the venue’s permanent exhibition after having been dismantled for several years. Klimt based the work on Based on Richard’s Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s 9th SymphonyWhere: The Secession Building in Vienna

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Beethoven Frieze : “The longing for happiness” (based on Richard Wagner’s interpretation of the IXth symphony by Ludwig Van Beethoven) by Gustav Klimt Material / technology : Casein colors, stucco overlays, crayons, applications of glass and gold overlays on mortar. In 1901, Klimt painted it in celebration of the composer and meant to display it at an exhibition – which is probably why it was painted directly on the walls, and with light materials. However, after the exhibition, the painting was preserved and is now on a permanent display in the Secession Building in Vienna. 1. The display room. 2. Left wall : "the yearning for happiness; the sufferings of weak mankind; …" 3. “… their petition to the well-armed strong one, to take up the struggle for happiness, impelled by motives of compassion and ambition. 4. Middle wall : “the hostile forces; Typhoeus the giant, against whom even gods fought in vain; his daughters, the three Gorgons, who symbolise lust and lechery, intemperance and gnawing care. The longings and wishes of mankind fly over their heads." 5. Right wall : "the yearning for happiness is assuaged in poetry. The arts lead us to the ideal realm in which we all can find pure joy, pure happiness, pure love. …" 6. “… Choir of angels from Paradise. 'Joy, lovely spark of heaven's fire, this embrace for all the world.” . Images via

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