Happy Birthday, Gustav Klimt!
World-famous artist Gustav Klimt had his 150th birthday celebrated recently by Google, who created a special Google doodle for the event.
The design of the doodle was not created on a computer; instead, it was painted, using faux gold leaf and oil paints. It depicts Klimt’s most famous painting, The Kiss, where a young couple embraces at the edge of a lake. The original painting is lavished with gold leaf and swirling colours, and is considered by some to be better even than the Mona Lisa.
Who was Gustav Klimt?
Klimt was born on July 14, 1862 and passed away on February 6, 1918. He was the son of a gold engraver, and it is thought this is may have influenced his “Golden Period,” when he used a lot of gold and silver leaf. His artwork was of the Art Noveau style, and most of his paintings included females -- often without many clothes! This sometimes caused scandal and great public outrage; some of his work was even banned from public exhibition. However, Klimt was still very popular, and was a successful artist in his lifetime. His work is sought after today, and can be bought for vast amounts of money, like the painting Adele Bloch-Bauer I–which was sold for $315 million!
The Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau
Klimt was a member of The Vienna Secession, a group of artists living in Austria who helped create the Art Nouveau style. Klimt was the first president of the Secession, which consisted of Klimt, Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Josef Olbrich, Koloman Moser, and others.
Art Nouveau, which means “New Art” in French, is a richly ornamental style. It is linked closely to Symbolism and uses flowing lines that imitate nature -- sometimes in a very abstract way. Art Nouveau aimed to create a new style of art that brought together painting and sculpture, and the craft and decorative arts. Followers of Art Nouveau sought to unify the arts, applying the style to architecture, furniture design, fabrics, jewelry, and different materials used in design.
Henry van de Veldewas an architect, interior designer, and Belgian Flemish painter. He designed and built some of his own buildings using Art Nouveau style -- including his own house, and the Kroller-Muller Museum in Amsterdam. Along with other artists, Van de Velde was one of the founders of Art Nouveau.
Hector Guimard was another artist that used this style. One of the most famous Art Nouveau creations was a station entrance in Paris that Guimard designed and made himself.
Art Nouveau lives on, through the work of its artists, and through Google! I wonder what they will come up with for Klimt’s next big birthday?