date of birth: 1862
place of birth: Baumgarten bei Wien
date of death: 1918
Gustav Klimt, born in 1862 as the son of a gold engraver, grew up in the Viennese suburb of Baumgarten, and as a student of the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna he was committed to Historicism in his early years. Handcrafted perfection with detailed depiction of surfaces and materials as well as the realistic, psychological reproduction of the characters characterize this phase. With the founding of the Vienna Secession in 1897, he soon turned decisively against the conventional academic art style of many contemporaries and became one of the most important painters of the Jugendstil. His pictures are characterized by a strong surface structure, bright colours and the use of small ornamental patterns. The seemingly incompatible elements of the realistic human form and the mosaic-like ornaments are fused together. Klimt deals with existential questions in his pictures and themes such as life after love, death, peace and fear. He showed special devotion to women whose sensuality and eroticism were at the center of his work. The integration of golden leaves in his pictures is typical of his so-called "Golden Period", which lasted until 1909. During this period his most famous work "The Kiss" was created. The deliberate decorative overload, which gives Klimts pictures its characteristic splendor and festivity, decreases towards the end of his life in favor of a softer style. Klimt, who died in 1918 following a stroke, not only influenced the Jugendstil and contemporaries, such as Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and later Hundertwasser, but also introduced new abstract elements into the art scene, and is now regarded as a pioneer of Fantastic Realism.