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2012: Vienna Celebrates Klimt?

May 2011

Vienna Celebrates on of its most popular artist in 2012

Gustav Klimt (1862?1918), one of Austria's greatest painters, would have celebrated his 150th birthday in 2012. His paintings, including The Kiss ? one of the world's best-known images ? are rightly seen as epitomizing the spirit of optimism that heralded the dawn of the modernist era.

High culture of all genres gravitated towards Vienna at around 1900. Exciting and pioneering discoveries were being made in the world of literature, visual arts, architecture and music with an intensity hardly seen elsewhere. In 1910 Vienna had a population of two million, making it the world's fifth largest city and the uncontested cultural capital of Central Europe. Gustav Klimt's works reflect the artistic and scientific discoveries and developments that shaped the period. His oeuvre charts the course from the Ringstrasse era to the early days of abstraction: influenced by Hans Makart, the defining Viennese painter of the late 19th century, Klimt, his brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch accepted a number of commissions to decorate buildings on Vienna's showpiece Ringstrasse Boulevard. The staircases of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (The museum of Fine Arts) and the Burgtheater (The National Theatre) are two outstanding examples of their work. Klimt's creative output and the style he developed in later years paved the way for his younger contemporaries, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

The legacy of Klimt and his fellow artists' 1897 protest against outdated concepts of art, a move that culminated with the foundation of the Secession movement, can be seen to this day: created by Joseph Maria Olbrich, a colleague of Otto Wagner, the new Secession Building exhibition hall bears the prescient motto of "To every age its art, to art its freedom".

Gustav Klimt

Der Kuss



Leopold Museum