He was one of Austria's pivotal artists of the later 19th Century, founder of the Secession movement, an amoral man who fathered possibly as many as fourteen children (none in wedlock, as he never married).His painting, Der Küss (The Kiss), is one of the most famous and instantly recognisable in the world. Yet, surprisingly little is really known about Klimt the man. What there is tends to be shrouded in conjecture and open to wild speculation.
|Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Klimt|
|Alma Schindler (later wife of Mahler)|
Er - well no actually. He was short, dark and chubby. On the plus side (from my point of view), he was a great cat lover and always kept a few around him.
He never painted a self-portrait, proclaiming himself to be unimportant as a potential subject. Similarly, there are few photographs of him but my favourite is this one. His smile is warm and it's quite clear that, for him, the main subject of this photograph is his little feline companion. I'm beginning to understand a little of why those women fell for him!
I have stood in front of Der Küss on many occasions. It is indeed as golden as you would imagine, although I remember when I saw it the first time, I was disappointed that it was much smaller than I had imagined. It is by no means my favourite Klimt painting either but there is no escaping its power and magnetism. The sensuous embrace - the man enfolding his lover while she, eyes closed, gives herself up willingly to his embrace. I find it sexually charged. Looking at it, you feel like a voyeur intruding on an intensely private, passionate moment. Their love is displayed for all to see.
Emilie Flöge by Klimt