Gustav Klimt is one of those painters who have the privilege of getting paintings that looked like his called Klimt-esque. Every painting that he has made has a distinct appearance, something that you can discern if his paintings are placed among a hundred generic paintings. One of the most distinctive features of his paintings is the use of golden color and intricate patterns. This is a double-edged sword because working with a lot of patterns and shades of a single color can create a painting that could look like an eye-candy or an incomprehensible mess. Klimt excelled in his art and managed to create paintings that amused the imagination of people. Today we look at some Gustav Klimt paintings that will make your day.
The Kiss is a painting that needs no words to explain because the eyes do it all. The shimmering gold canvas showing the sensual connection between two lovers defined Klimt and his style. While this is not the most expensive Klimt painting, it surely is the most widely known.
A man and a woman wrapped in a golden cloth seem to be enjoying the sensual company of each other, forming a bond and almost merging with the earth below. The pattern on the woman’s side has round, floral patterns while the man has bold, sharp, rectangular patterns, creating the distinction between the two. The Kiss is a large painting, measuring a gigantic 172 inches X 172 inches or 6 feet by 6 feet.
There is so much to look at in this painting, little intricate patterns, asymmetrical shapes running across the canvas, some circles, and some rectangles. The most striking thing about the painting is despite having so many elements in the painting, the subject “shines” very well with no sign of cluttering.
The painting takes inspiration from the Byzantine Mosaics at Ravenna, Italy. This painting is also the peak of Klimt’s Golden Period. The Kiss was sold at a price of around $240,000 US (inflation-adjusted).
Tree of Life
Another one of the Golden Period, Tree of Life again shows the brilliance of the painter and his excellent control over using the golden color. The difficult part of making a painting using just multiple shades of a single color is that you cannot make it too complex. But Klimt made it complex and yet he knew how to keep your attention bracketed, commanding your eyes to move from one element to the other. If this wasn’t the case, the painting would look like a mess.
Tree of Life is about the source of every vital energy. The tree grows from the ground, spreading all over the canvas. On the right, there is a couple in each others’ embrace, and on the left, a woman looking at the couple with a tinge of jealousy. The left side represents expectations and the right side represents fulfillment. The painting was completed in 1909 and currently sits at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
We finally come to the most expensive painting by Gustav Klimt and one of the most expensive paintings of all time. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer has an interesting story. It was created for the husband of the lady in the painting. He was a Jewish businessman and when the Nazis took over, he was forced to seek refuge in Switzerland and this painting was taken by the Nazis.
Long story short, a family member of the original owner of the painting took legal action to get the painting back to her family and won. Then she sold it for..are you ready?… $135 million US. That is one hell of a sale.
The painting is expressively golden with the face of Adele Bloch-Bauer somewhere amidst the gold. The painting goes to show how Klimt had mastered the art of painting with gold. How distinct and yet how uniform the painting looks. How the intricate patterns reveal the contours of her dress. A magnificent piece of art.
After three paintings with golden tones, this painting will shift the tone. While there is not a single speck of golden color (although it was created in his Gold phase, the style and structure of the painting make it undoubtedly a Klimt’s painting.
We see the amalgamation of the blue sky behind, the concrete and brick of the house being graciously hugged by the plants connecting the water to the house. A magnificent sight in itself but it gets better with Klimt’s perception and style.
There is also something unique about the painting that makes you want to look at it. The plants and even the buildings have Klimt’s style, but the water is made very realistically. This pairing creates something new, something worth looking at in the painting.
Portrait of a Lady
The lady sits up and looks directly into the eyes of the viewers. Instead of using bright golden colors or his characteristic patterns, Klimt created this painting with dull, bluish-green tones and a melancholic overlay. The subject of the painting looks very similar to the one in the famous painting by Vermeer called Girl with a Pearl Earring. But there’s more to the painting that meets the eyes.
X-Ray analysis of the painting shows that it was painted over another sketch done on the same canvas. This was called Portrait of a Young Woman. Why did Klimt do such a thing? Was the girl someone else that Klimt lost? Who knows. But this story makes the painting more interesting.
Malcesine on Lake Garda
Painted from the view of commune in Italy from Lake Garda, this beautiful panoramic painting is so far away from the usual style of Klimt. The colorful buildings slowly rise as the canvas rises, the sea has the reflection of the building with their colors yet it is done very roughly, perhaps to add a hint of impressionism.
The way Klimt has arranged the buildings in a tight space makes us wanna think that he is trying to add a tinge of Cubism in the painting. But no matter what, this is one of Gustav Klimt paintings that is an eye-catcher.
Death and Life
This one is I think the most powerful painting by Gustav Klimt. The symbolism, the execution, and the reception of the image are so on point that it makes you wanna look at the painting and think about what it is conveying. Death and Life are divided into two halves, one is colorful, bright, and shows the passage of time. The other shows the Grim Reaper in dark tones of blue, cold, and stagnant. Both are part of the painting, just like life and death are a part of the same thing.
Life also shows the passage of time and things happening, while death just lurks, ready to strike. This is one of the paintings that gives you a profound feeling when looked at.
Apple Tree I
A beautiful concoction of Impressionistic and Mosaic art styles with a dash of colors makes this painting a pleasure to look at. This is one of the paintings I’d hang in the living room and most definitely will catch the attention of any living being who enters it. The reds, the yellows, the purples, and the pinks all fit so perfectly into the dense kingdom of green.
There is so much to look at and yet it all comes together to become a unified, beautiful painting. This is the magic and style of Klimt.
The Virgin is another example of Klimt’s painting style, sans the golden color. This eye candy blends in a soothing combination of colors and at first look, it looks like there is nothing you can discern. But continue gazing at this masterpiece and you’ll start seeing every element of the painting well-separated. The young ladies bathed in colorful flowers with the expression of sensuality, maidenhood, and power.
Medicine or Hygeia
A magnificent painting of Hygeia, the daughter of the God of Medicine, Asclepius. The most beautiful part about this painting is the perfectly fitting combination of red and golden colors. Hygeia is holding a golden snake which is the snake of Asclepius, the snake that coils around the Rod of Asclepius. A beautiful creation that deserves all the praise it gets.
These were some Gustav Klimt paintings that we thing are some of his finest works. This concludes the article. But this does not mean you’ll have to go. Here are some other artists and their works that you’ve got to check if you like paintings.