Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter.
He was a member of the Vienna Secession movement, which disavowed the Association of Austrian Artists' traditionalism in favor of modern styles like Art Nouveau. As a result of his avant-garde sensibilities, much of his work is highly stylized, with bright color schemes and creative decorative patterns to establish texture. He frequently painted the female form, emotions, and erotic subject matter. Klimt also did commercial commissions, and painted murals and ceiling paintings for buildings in Vienna, though his tendency to portray nudes would often scandalize the establishment.
Klimt died in 1918 at the age of 55. He left a strong artistic legacy that continues to influence artists today. Although if you've heard of any of his paintings, it's likely The Kiss or The Woman in Gold.
Tropes in his work:
- Dear Negative Reader: The painting Goldfish was originally titled To My Detractors, and depicts a nymph mockingly baring her butt to the audience.
- Gold Makes Everything Shiny: He used a lot of gold leaf in his later paintings (including The Kiss), resulting in shiny and glamorous-looking paintings.
- The Hecate Sisters: The subject of The Three Ages of Woman, showing an old woman, a mother, and a female child intertwined with each other.
- Life/Death Juxtaposition: Death and Life has a skull-faced humanoid representing Death looking on at a group of humans entwined in each other representing Life.
- Off with His Head!: Had a take on the apocryphal story of Judith beheading Holofernes. In Judith and the Head of Holofernes, Judith is proud and beautiful while Holofernes's head is cut off by the painting's borders, almost an afterthought.
- Person with the Clothing: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is also called The Woman in Gold.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (aka The Woman in Gold): Adele's pale skin and raven hair contrast against the gold that dominates much of the painting.