Friday, May 31, 2013

Klimt, Gustav

Portrait of Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann
oil on canvas
180 x 140 cm
The Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria

Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann and her husband were leading figures within the art scene of fin the siecle Vienna. They were highly cherished by artist such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler and Gustav Klimt who perpetuated her in one of his most important paintings. Rose was a very modern woman, she was the first woman to climb the Watzmann-Ostwand (2653m) with the highest cliff (1800m) of the Ostalpen. During World War I she volunteered in a military hospital in Vienna, caught the deadly typhus and dies thereafter in 1919.

"I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women...There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night...Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures." (Klimt)

Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. He was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria and was educated at the Vienna Kunstgewerbe Art School. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt's primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism.

His work is distinguished by an elegant use of gold backgrounds and mosaic patterns. His elaborate, explicitly sensual works expressed themes of regeneration, love and death, and incorporated Egyptian, Classical Greek, Byzantine and Medieval styles. He was also inspired by engravings of Albrecht Durer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese Ukiyo-e. In synthesizing these diverse sources, Klimt's art achieved both individuality and extreme elegance.

Laying the groundwork for Art Deco and Modernism, Klimt’s creative influence can still be seen in today’s art, decorations and jewelry. He died in Vienna of pneumonia and was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery, Vienna.