Gustav Klimt: ARTISTS SERIES: Wacky, Weird, Wild, or Just Plain Savvy? – #3 in the series


Episode #3

Gustav Klimt

[Dr. DJ continues this 10-part series. In Episode #11. Dr. DJ will explain

who he believes should be the receiver of the WWW Artist Award (and Why, of course!)]

Gustav Klimt

 “I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for painting than I am in other people, above all women.”  -Gustav Klimt


Gustav’s Life and Death

Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt, was born in 1862, one year into the 4-year American Civil War between the states.  He passed away, in 1918, from pneumonia after a stroke that hospitalized him a month earlier.

Klimt’s short and infamous philosophy of art was summed up in four words: “All art is erotic.”

How erotic? Quite erotic. See #6 below.                                                                                                                                        

― Gustav Klimt “People sometimes say the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually, it’s the way things happen to you in life that’s unreal.”




7 Things many do not know about Gustav Klimt


  1.  Many of Klimt’s best paintings were burned

As many as 14 of Klimt’s works were destroyed on May 8, 1945, when the Schloss Immendorf, a castle in the small Austrian village of Immendorf that had been used as a safe storage space for looted and stolen art during the war, was burnt down by an Nazi SS unit in retreat. The reason? To keep it from falling into the hands of the advancing Russian Army.


  1. Klimt did not begin as a portrait painter.

Klimt first achieved acclaim as a decorative painter of historical scenes and figures through his many commissions to embellish public buildings.


  1. Klimt painted with gold.

Gustav’s father was a gold engraver, and this led to his fascination with the precious metal. Later, in doing some of his friezes, he applied double layers of gold, glued with a preparation mostly made of egg yolk, animal glue and chalk. Among the most famous works of Gustav Klimt’s “Golden Period” is no doubt his Beethoven Frieze. The mural was created as a decorative painting for the 14th Vienna Secession exhibition, which was on display from 15th April to 27th June 1902.


  1. Klimt was undoubtedly the most famous art nouveau artist.

The height of the Art Nouveau period was 1890 – 1910 and was characterized by long, sinuous, organic lines and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass

design, posters, and illustration.

Gustav Klimt

  1. A Klimt painting was the highest price painting sold at auction in 2006

Adele Bloch-Bauer I fetched the highest price paid for a painting at an auction in 2006 at $135 million. Adele Bloch-Bauer I is part of the series of paintings that comprise Klimt’s “Golden Phase” from the late 1800s to the early 1900s…which ended with the most well-known Klimt painting, The Kiss.

Gustav Klimt CatandGown

  1. Gustav wore no underwear.

Klimt was not a partier – well, not overtly anyway. He did not do clubbing and lead the highlife as so many artists were known to do – often obtaining clients in their socializing. Gustav allowed his reputation to speak for itself and let clients seek him out. He was a homebody and spent his days in his studio working on his painting wearing his signature, long, flowing caftan and sandals and no underwear.


  1. Klimt was intrigued with eroticism in several ways.


Although, Gustave was quite private and close-lipped about his life and self, he could not deny the fidelity between the eroticism in his paintings and in his desires. This was obvious in his work and it was mostly about figurative drawings of models in the nude. To punctuate the word erotic, it is known the life-time bachelor had countless affairs, many with his infamous nude models, resulting 14 children.


  1. Klimt uttered 3 last words on his deathbed.


Whether physical or not, Klimt’s longest intimate friendship was with his sister-in-law Emilie Flöge, who owned a Viennese fashion salon. They had a very tender and long friendship, spending many summers together at Attersee, a beautiful Austrian lake. Flöge was featured in many of his works and it is said that the last words he spoke before he died were, “Send for Emilie.”



Gustav’s advice to artists


Gustav did not run around dropping sound bites for eager biographers to seize and jot down like a piece of Klimpt’s gold foil shavings. Klimt never told artists how to paint. He showed them. If you look closely at how he operated in his art mode, one word comes clearly through:

Sketching. He was constantly sketching…and, after he died, over 4,000 sketches were found lying around his studio. And those were the ones his cats – which were numerous – did not chew up. So, if we are to discern Gustav Klimt’s message from his life it would be this:

“Great art does not happen by accident…it happens because of, at the very least, dogged persistence.”


And maybe we can also see that coming through in what I consider to be one of his most moving statements.

 “Truth is like fire; to tell the truth means to glow and burn.”
― Gustav Klimt

See Gustav’s works at MOMA 


Who will be in WWW #4??? Wait and see!!! (Hint: He knew Klimt)




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