Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. In the conservative Austrian art world, Gustav Klimt was sold as a porn artist who was never before, but the more he was attracted to his paintings by the brilliant colour and bold lines, and Gustav Klimt became famous as the best painter in Austria. Klimt was also famous for getting inspiration in physical relationships with women. So most of his paintings are talking about women, sex, and death, and he expressed women in erotic and sexual ways. His paintings are characterised by colourful and elaborate decorations and golden colour.
When people think Klimt’s work ,the most them immediately think ‘kiss’. It is the work that has the most imitations in the world, and it is a work that is widely used for clothes, goods, advertisement, etc. This work is now on display at the Palace of Belvedere in Austria. When this work was first introduced in Vienna in 1908, its so sensation. It completely new style that directly and ecstatically expressed human’s secret desires from traditional beauty. We can know the influence of this work was great at the time by the government buy his work right away. Expect Klimt require large amount of money. Now a days, a lot of tourists are visiting Austria to see this work .
In 1907-1908, Klimt’s golden works, familiar to the public such as Portrait of Adele Broughuer, Tree of Life, Achievement, and Kiss, were actively portrayed in the Golden Period, ‘(1907-1908).
Klimt was very interested in gold after he traveled to Italy in 1903. Especially, the golden mosaic in Ravenna had a great influence on him. He used eight kinds of gold leaf shapes, and the delicate technique of applying gold leaf to the paintings is likely to have been learned by the his father who carved the pieces of gold and silver artefacts.
When we look at gold itself, it is a symbol of pleasure and joy, and gold is symbol of the Constancy. Delight and unchangeable, that eternal love resembles gold, so he may have used gold to express it. Moreover, there would have been a time-honoured background in Austria at that time, with the colourful decoration like gold.
Since Klimt did not introduce his work, this painting can be interpreted differently according to the viewer. The combination of an active male who expressing love and a woman who is loved in a passive position is the most popular view. Unlike an aggressive man, a woman who turned her face gives her cheek it gives the feeling that the woman being dragged by man. The figure of woman who is kneeling and closing her eyes while hanging from a lover emphasised the masculinity of the man and made her feel completely ‘loved’.
But when I actually saw this picture, I did not get that feeling. Apart from obedient dominance, it was overwhelmed by the splendour and beauty, and when the woman was pulling her hand around the man’s neck or looking at her red-faced face, they seemed to be one that was not dominant.
It is also necessary to pay attention to the symbolism of figures drawn on the costumes and backgrounds of figures. The image of a man represented by black and grey rectangles and the image of a woman drawn in the shape of colourful flowers, circles and curves add a decorative character to the painting, giving the work a higher level of symbolism.
So who is the woman in the work that is loved by the lover to the public? In order to solve this question, I have to peek into Klimt’s life.
Klimt, who has been calling him “Casanova” of Vienna, has been scandal with numerous models. But He did not marry at the end of what he called “abomination of civil society.” However, since his youth, he has suffered from the problems of 14 illegitimate children. He has inherited four children who have been recognised since he died. Emilie Flöge is the woman who kept all these things close and handled the funeral and heritage issues.
Emilie, who was a successful businesswoman as a costume designer for Emilie, was a model for a progressive woman at the time, but her style of love was different. She did not marry for a lifetime and kept Klimt close by a certain distance. In fact, Emilie proposed to him, but he was rejected.
Klimt separated spiritual love from physical love, and she was the only person for spiritual love. He shared everything except sexuality with her, and gave him the same spiritual mood as his mother until he died. After Klimt died, she lived alone until the end, and she lay next to Klimt’s tomb.
But when they were together, Emilie had once left Klimt. When he painted sensual nudity, he could not spread his style when he painted Emilie Flöge. Feeling inconvenient that his style is disappearing, he restarts to meet his models secretly, and finally Emilie know that and she thinks he does not love her and leaves him. Emilie is back after Klimt release this painting, the ‘kiss’. Gustaf Klimt, who embraced and kissed Emilie François in her paintings, reminded Emilie Flöge again, and Gustaf Klimt and Emilie Flöge spent 27 years as a spiritual landlord and friend.
I think that he wanted to convey the sweet love and fear of when lover could go away from him by painting the gold with eternal love on her heart and cliff. In the name of Emilie, who was found in a sketch for Kiss, she adds to the speculation that the woman in the work is her.
Gustav Klimt Biography, http://www.biography.com/people/gustav-klimt-9366571#synopsis (accessed 29/01/2017)
Klimt museum, http://www.klimt.com (accessed 29/01/2017)
Gustav Klimt, http://www.klimtgallery.org/ (accessed 30/01/2017)
Gustav Klimt(Paintings, Quotes, and Biography), http://www.gustav-klimt.com/Serpents.jsp (accessed 30/01/2017)
‘사랑’이란 세상에 둘만 유배되는 것, 절벽에서의 스릴있는 ‘키스’[구스타프 클림트) / YTN 웨더앤라이프(Korean show program introduce about Gustav Klimt), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhdXDxOEL28 (accessed 29/01/2017)
GUSTAV KLIMT • « Klimt » • film by Raul Ruiz,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ASJwbQFoU (accessed 30/01/2017)
Dressing the Woman in Gold: The Unknown Bohemian Designer behind the Paintings, http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/07/15/dressing-the-woman-in-gold-the-unknown-bohemian-designer-behind-the-paintings/ (accessed 30/01/2017)
Explore Mosaics Frescoes, Byzantine Mosaic and more!, https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/417708934169887667/(accessed 30/01/2017)
Ravenna and Her Mosaics, http://www.aswesawit.com/ravenna-mosaics/ (accessed 30/01/2017)