Klimt, Gustav (1862–1918) By Jordon, Sharon
Gustav Klimt had an indelible influence on the artistic and cultural innovations that occurred in Vienna at the turn of the century. He was a founding member and public figurehead for the city’s Secession, an organization responsible for exhibitions that introduced the public to the latest developments in European modern art. His associations with leading members of the city’s cultural and intellectual elite, and his collaborations with leading artists, architects, and designers resulted in many important artworks.
In 1876, at age 14, Klimt enrolled at the recently founded Kunstgewerbeschule (Imperial and Royal School of Applied Arts and Crafts), where he spent seven years. Klimt soon established his reputation for large paintings in public buildings as part of the redevelopment of the Ringstrasse: a series on the history of theatre for the new Burgtheater (Imperial Court Theatre), 1886–1888, was followed by murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art Museum), 1891, featuring female personifications of the arts of ancient cultures, showing Klimt’s growing interest in women as a primary subject in his work. Klimt received the Emperor’s prize for his realist painting Auditorium Theatre (1888), which includes more than 100 portraits of leading Viennese citizens making up the theatre’s audience.