Gustav Klimt was one of the most representative artists of Jugendstil and became an influential figure of the Viennese Art Nouveau.
After his studies at the Arts and Crafts School in Vienna, Austria, he was inspired by Symbolist paintings and literature and by R. Macintosh designs, and began working with his brother Ernst on wall and ceiling paintings.
The Expectation wall mosaic frieze
In 1897, he founded with fellow artists J. Hoffmann, K. Moser and J.M. Olbrich, the Wiener Secession, an intellectual and artistic association, inspired by Art Nouveau movements, born in rebellion to established art taste in Austria. The same year he founded the art journal “Ver Sacrum”, in which the Vienna Secession artists and architects developed their revolutionary anti-art theories, their interdisciplinary aesthetic ideals and published original illustrations as well as chronicles of the Secession.
In 1903, they left the Vienna Secession, aspiring to a renaissance of the Arts and Crafts, to more functional aesthetics, abstract designs and purer forms, and founded the Wiener Werkstätte for Decorative Arts.
In 1905, Hoffmann, Klimt and the Wiener Werkstätte artists were commissioned by a Belgian art patron to design the Palais Stoclet, in Brussels, the Capital of Art Nouveau. This magnificent house is the most representative symbol of 20th century art and architecture, as the Art Nouveau concept of a “total work of art ” was fully realized in every detail, surface, ornament, inside or outside.
Mother & Child in the Three Ages of Woman
The masterpiece of the house is the luxurious dinning room, decorated with colored marbles, rare woods furniture, silver tableware and enlightened by the famous mosaic friezes by Klimt. Made with white and multi-colored majolica, semi-precious stones and gold tiles, the large mosaic is displayed on the two sidewalls of the room. It features original spiral motifs of stylized trees and sensuous two figures embracing, enveloped in their beautiful decorative dress and enriched by abstract decorative ornaments.
Forerunner of Modernism and Art Deco Movements, the style of Gustav Klimt was very different from organic flowery styles of other Art Nouveau artists. The symbolic or subtly erotic themes he explored in his oil paintings, cardboard drawings and decorative wall mosaics, scandalized his contemporary. His works were a step toward abstraction, as he developed the concept of “empty plane” and displayed strong geometric motifs, stylized ornamental details, bald warm colors and gold enrichments.
Very popular today, Klimt’s progressive works have inspired many modern art works, such as posters, decorative objects, porcelain plates and vases, multi- colored glass tableware, tea spoons or wine and champagne stoppers, as well as luxurious glass jewelry.