A Golden Kiss for Klimt – WSJ.com
A local celebrity during his lifetime, Viennese artist Gustav Klimt has become an international sensation in ours. His gilded 1907-08 painting “The Kiss” has turned into one of Vienna’s leading tourist attractions, and his portraits, some of which sell for tens of millions of euros, are among the most highly valued paintings in the history of art.
This year, Vienna celebrates the 150th anniversary of Klimt’s birth with 10 special exhibitions, many highlighting relatively unknown aspects of the artist’s life and work.
Over the past few decades, Klimt has re-emerged as Austria’s national painter, and his work is treated as a symbol of the flowering of arts and science that marked Vienna at the end of the Habsburg monarchy. Today, many of Vienna’s leading creative figures still regard him as a touchstone.
Klimt is “part of Austrian history,” says Erwin Wurm, a sculptor with an international following. Mr. Wurm, known for an absurdist conceptual approach inherently at odds with the Klimt legacy, nonetheless places the artist at the very center of Austria’s artistic tradition, viewing Klimt’s “theatricality” as both a successor to the Austrian Baroque and a precursor of Viennese Actionism, an influential avant-garde movement in the visual and performing arts that flourished in the 1960s.
Gustav Klimt 1862-1918 was born in a Viennese suburb that is now part of the city’s Penzing district. The son of a goldsmith, he was trained as an architectural painter at Vienna’s Kunstgewerbeschule, now the University of Applied Arts Vienna. This is “important to know,” says Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, director of MAK, Vienna’s museum of applied arts. Klimt is “not a normal painter,” he says.
Strange Random Painting Quote:
“It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.” – Henri Matisse (Artist regarded as the most important French Painter and Artist of the 20th century, 1869-1954)
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