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Gustav Klimt

ASAG Journal

Gustav Klimt's artworks are defined by some of the following characteristics:

1. The use of intricate designs and patterns: Klimt's paintings are often characterized by the use of intricate designs and patterns. He frequently used gold leaf and other metallic colors to create a decorative effect.

2. Sensuality and eroticism: Many of Klimt's paintings have an erotic or sensual undertone and feature nude or partially clothed figures.

3. Symbolism: Klimt often incorporated symbols into his paintings, such as snakes, flowers, and spirals, which were intended to convey different meanings.

4. Women as the subject: Klimt's paintings often depict women as the central subject, with the female form being a dominant theme of his work.

5. Expressionism and Art Nouveau influence: Klimt's art is often associated with the Art Nouveau movement and the expressionist style, which emphasized the emotions and the individual experience of the artist.

Overall, Klimt's artworks capture the beauty and sensuality of the human form, while also conveying deeper symbolic meanings and emotions.

The Golden Kiss

Randy H. Sooknanan

ASAG Journal

February 1, 2020

'The Kiss' was executed as an oil-on-canvas painting by the Austrian symbolist  Gustav Klimt, who here also employed a remarkably heavy mix of added gold leaf, silver, and platinum into his composition. The artwork was painted at some point in 1907 and 1908, which was during the height of what scholars call his "Golden period." The painting is significantly oversized and measures approximately 6 x 6 feet, featuring shimmering gold tones, stylized forms, and sentimental iconography, 'The Kiss' was Klimt's artistic response to seeing the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna, Italy, which so profoundly affected him and it is the final painting from which he incorporated gold leaf into his works.

​​When we look at this work, we can really see how the general practice reflects a strong influence from the gold-detailed religious art produced in the Middle Ages along with that of sacred works created by artists from the Byzantine Empire. As we can see, the gold leaf use definitely hearkens back to such Byzantine artworks as the mosaics we can find in the Church of San Vitale, which is a late antique church in Ravenna, Italy dating from the 6th-century. The building also houses important surviving examples of early Christian Byzantine architecture and is one of eight structures in Ravenna classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The visit to such a place can be thought of as an inspiration to the "Golden period" work of Klimt. The church itself features several Baroque-era frescos, gold-themed triumphal arches, and an interior mosaic dome.
Yet still, 'The Kiss' can be viewed as a ménage of many different schools of art. Additionally, we can derive that the composition of this work also reflects the influence of Japanese prints that were highly impactful on some other earlier Impressionist movement paintings. Furthermore, it is also fascinating to note the contrasting patterns of the two lovers' cloaks, which we can say imitates the Arts and Crafts movement of the era as well. Nevertheless, overall, Klimt truly imbued 'The Kiss' with elements of his signature Art Nouveau style.

Another interesting factoid we can consider during the painting's production was the post-Victorian society of the early 1900s view of it. At the time, even with its sheen elements and rather soft-hearted scene, some people perceived 'The Kiss' as pornographic, even though both figures are fully robed in the picture. Despite the public outcry it generated, the painting sold before the artist had completely finished it. The Belvedere Museum of Vienna was the pre-purchaser and to this day the work remains housed there. And ever since, as vistors find the lovers embace each other, it has enchanted audiences dearly.

"The Kiss"
Artist: Gustav Klimt
Dimensions: 1.8 m x 1.8 m
Created: 1907–1908
Style: Oil painting and Gold leaf
Period: Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Modern art, Vienna Secession
Location: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria


The Golden Kiss

"Art is a line around your thoughts"
- Gustav Klimt


Gustav Klimt
Credit: Pinterest

Golden Fishes

Elvira Valentina Resta

ASAG Journal

March 1, 2021

by Gustav Klimt, 1901-1902

Gustav Klimt is considered by many to be the greatest master of symbolist painting of the late 1800s. In the era of the Viennese Secession, he created a new way of conceiving painting, where stylization, two-dimensionality, linearism and ornament lead to the creation of a new symbolism of the spirit. At the Dresden exhibition in 1904, the work provoked a violent reaction from the authorities who, in order to avoid the Prince of Saxony from viewing it, forced the painter to withdraw it.  Klimt’s interpretation of the woman takes not only different forms, as in this work, but constantly changes in its meaning, coming to impersonate beings with precise characteristics and qualities both positive and negative. The theme in "Golden Fishes" is that of seduction and sensuality. Klimt takes up the theme of the mermaid, being fantastic half fish and half woman whose singing, according to the myth, enchanted the sailors leading them to drown among the rocks. Sensual is the line that softly draws the body of the mischievous mermaid in the foreground, who turning her back shows itself in all its shining beauty, decidedly provocative. The red hair caresses her, creating a wonderful chromatic contrast with the fish with shimmering gold scales that seems to move the fins playing in the water. In the variegated bottom of golden straws and dark filaments move other sirens, one seems to disappear, the other turns the disturbing gaze towards the viewer floating. The figures have moves very similar to those of another painting "Silver Fishes" where the bodies of young women slip like seaweed in a sea of chiaroscuro reflections. Everything seems to participate in this almost mesmerizing atmosphere, pervaded by the breath of colours and the iridescent thinning of gold, in a climate of sweet axonances that also return in "Water snake I" and "Water snake II". The critic Gesche will express all his amazement at this climate of wonderful enchantment: "With these flame-haired sirens the golden fish give the impression of looking into the aquarium of Eros"; this painting by Klimt has the sumptuousness of a fairy tale.


Detail heads of Athena and Isis


Detail of Athena and Isis from Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt by Klimt
Gustav Klimt, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

"The Farm House in Upper Austria" (1911)

by Gustav Klimt

Randy H. Sooknanan

ASAG Journal

March 1, 2021

"The Farm House in Upper Austria" by Gustav Klimt (1911) brings the viewer to be placed in the eyesight of the artist, viewing the environment through the painter's eyes.

We see a technique similar to another prominent artist, Vincent Van Gogh, from its linear techniques that showcase the flatness of the painting, to the brushwork within the canopy of the painting, which brings a deeper meaning to the work. Gustav Klimt had studied the artist's work, incorporating a similar minor brush stroke throughout his work.

The painting, Farm House in Upper Austria, carries the similar garden countryside theme as the artist's other works, including Farm Garden with Sunflowers (1913), Country House on Attersee (1901), Church in Unterach Attersee (1901), and Attersee (1900). This style occurred as Klimt began spending his summers in the countryside of Austria away from the city, absorbing the nature and transforming it into his paintings.

As Klimt had encountered a period of praise for his bronzed gold phase, he had ventured off into the natural phase, yet while still incorporating his beloved style of mosaic arts in the strategic structure of leaves and flowers.

Farm House in Upper Austria illustrates the detailed light blue-grey farmhouse, through an array of detail encompassing an impressionism feel. The floor of the meadow remains to be structured in the painter's traditional style, using vertical brush strokes to display the growth of the grass, alongside elongating the canvas so the viewer is not stuck with a flattened surface.

The soft pattern of small colourful flowers carries elements from Klimt's gold phase, as the mosaic style still fills the meadow. Similarly the canopy of the painting depends through dark shades of green and turquoise-blue, creating a deeper texture. Art critics state that the canopy of the trees illustrates an allegory of the trees, forcing the individual to view the leaves in a deeper darker meaning. The piece engulfs the viewer with an array of thought, wondering what the deeper meaning within the painting is.


"Malcesine on Lake Garda", 1913

by Gustav Klimt


Malcesine on Lake Garda, 1913 by Gustav Klimt

"Detail heads of Athena and Isis"
(Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt)
by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) 🇦🇹
Style: Art Nouveau
Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Ceiling above the grand staircase)

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