Painting of Gustav Klimt: Modern with nudes, Hitler’s help and the journey of “Golden Adele”
Pictures of Gustav Klimt, written more than a hundred years ago and relating to a long past cultural era, are interesting and modern connoisseur of painting. Is this caused by the obvious erotic undertones of his works – or is it all a matter of the brilliant talent of the artist?
Klimts, art and the Flage family
Gustav Klimt was born on the outskirts of Vienna in 1862. The future artist was one of seven children in a poor family of a jeweler and engraver, from his father he received the first drawing skills. Later, Klimt Jr. was able to enroll in an art and craft school at the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry. Already in his youth, Gustav tried to carry out as many paid orders as possible – Klimts did not live in poverty like most Austrians of that time.
Together with his brother Ernst and fellow art school Franz March, he executed orders for the painting of buildings – including the mineral water pavilion in Karlsbad, the Vienna Theater, the Art History Museum.
Hans Makart, a Viennese painter, decorator and designer, representative of the academic trend in decorative art, was his creative reference point in those days. Despite this, Klimt was looking for his own ways in the works, at first fascinated by landscape painting.
An important event in his fate was an acquaintance with the Flage family. In 1891, Gustav’s brother Ernst married Helene Flege, and the next year he died, and the family of the deceased brother was taken care of by Gustav. The artist became close to Emilia, Helena’s younger sister, and the relationship lasted until the end of the artist’s life – despite the presence of numerous mistresses.
However, according to the artist’s biographers, the relationship between him and Emilia was platonic. Flege’s sisters held a fashion house in Vienna and were considered successful couturiers. Emilia inspired Gustav Klimt to create a series of paintings, including, as is believed, the famous “Kiss”.
From landscape painting, Klimt finally turned to the image of women, and he will remain faithful to this topic until the end of his days. The artist was accused of a deliberately erotic, even pornographic approach to his work, often women of easy virtue became his models. Hence, it is believed, naturalness and relaxation, distinguishing nude figures in the works of the Austrian. Men in his paintings Klimt rarely wrote.
Scandal turned the order to Klimt on the ceiling painting in the assembly hall of the University of Vienna on the Ringstrasse. Created allegories “Philosophy”, “Medicine”, “Jurisprudence” – the so-called “faculty paintings” – were rated by the customer as obscene. However, “Philosophy” received in 1900 a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. The paintings had been bought by the patron Augustus Lederer, and later they were nationalized by the Nazis and died in a fire at the end of the Second World War. Only the sketches of Klimt and a few photographs of finished works survived.
Europe at the end of the 19th century was influenced by modernity, and Klimt’s innovation, a departure from outdated foundations and forms in painting, made him one of the ideologists of the new art direction. In 1897 a group of Austrian artists founded the “Vienna Secession”, declaring “war a sterile routine”. The head of the secession was Klimt. The main purpose of the association was the organization of exhibitions where young artists, writing in an unusual style, could declare themselves. The magazine of the secessionists called Ver Sacrum – “Sacred Spring” also began to be published.
Modern or Jugendschil, as they called it in Austria and Germany, united different currents. A striking phenomenon in painting was the “Golden Period” of Gustav Klimt’s work, which began with the work “Athena Pallas”. The canvases of this cycle immediately attracted the attention of gilding actively used by Klimt. The “golden period” brought the artist worldwide fame and is considered the most successful in his career.
The history of creation and journey through the ocean “Golden Adele”
Interestingly, the work on the picture Klimt, contrary to tradition, began with the manufacture of the frame. It was he who brought her to dinner, which was arranged by the husband of one of Klimt’s many mistresses, Adele Bloch-Bower. Having discovered the betrayal of his wife, Mr. Ferdinand, wanting to put an end to this connection and not destroy his marriage, decided to entrust Klimt with the portrait of Adele, planning with his repeated demands to correct the sketch.