Gustav Klimt was born in Vienna, Austria in 1862. His father nurtured his interest in art but his formal training began at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Art) in Vienna. He later worked as an artist-decorator in association with his brother, Ernst and Franz Matsch.
Klimt was drawn to avant-garade art and was influenced by Impressionism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau. He was essentially a decorative artist whose primal forces of sexuality, regeneration, love and death formed the dominant themes of his art. In Klimt's best known work, The Kiss, beautifully rendered figures appear to float in space, wrapped in an abstract, graceful mosaic robe. The rhythmic flowing line and organic form of Klimt's paintings have in turn become a powerful influence on Art Nouveau.
Klimt's highly decorative, erotic female figures were influenced by a number of sources such as classical Greek art, Byzantine mosaics, late-medieval painting, photography, the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and the Symbolist art of Max Klinger. As a co-founder of the Vienna Secession, a group of artists and craftsmen who formed to revolt against conservative and moralising classical academic training of the time, his work embodied the high-keyed erotic, psychological and aesthetic preoccupations of fin-de-siecle Viennese intellectuals.
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