Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912

Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York
Gustav Klimt, born on July 14, 1862, in Baumgarten, Austria! Klimt, whose work is best described as Symbolism Painting, got his beginnings from decorative painting, frequently getting commissions for painting architectural buildings, as well as the ceiling of the University of Vienna’s Great Hall. Klimt, whose paintings at times arose uproars and scandals due to their erotic and sexual nature, worked in gold leaf, which comes as no surprise, considering that his father was a gold engraver. As a huge admirer of one of the most popular Viennese historical painters at the time, Hans Makart, Klimt, while still a student at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, bribed one of Makart’s servants to allow him into the artist’s studio in order for Klimt to better observe and study his idol’s next work. Along with Max Kurzweil, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, Klimt was a founding member of the Vienna Secession, an art movement, established in 1897, which sought to reform the academic approach to art, especially within Historicism, a term used to unify all arts that tend to revive or copy works of historic artists and architects. Klimt was the organization’s first president, and its new and lax approach to exhibitions allowed for the Viennese public to get acquainted with French Impressionists. In 1874, tired of strict ruling and constant scrutiny by the Paris Salon, which was an annual show put on by the Academie des Beaux-Arts, and which was known for its unwillingness to accept new artists and art movements, Claude Monet, along with Edgar Dega, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot and Pierre Renoir, had their own independent Impressionists exhibition, and continued to do so until 1886, biennially, allowing any artist to exhibit with the group as long as they were willing to pay a 60 Francs fee. Although Klimt worked in symbolistic narrative, it is easy to see how he could be viewed as a predecessor to both Expressionism and Surrealism, movements which could not have existed if not for the rebellion of the Impressionists, which were a somewhat loose model for Klimt’s Viennese Succession.  In 1906, Gustav Klimt resigned as the president of the Vienna Secession and consequently left the group due to creative and artistic differences. Pictured here is Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912. This painting, which now resides at the Neue Galerie, New York City, New York, while this photo was taken at Museum of Modern Art, New York while on loan, was confiscated by the Nazi regime in 1938 from the home of Bloch-Bauer family, where it originally was hung. Ferdinand Block-Bauer, a wealthy industrialist, and his wife, Adele, were ardent supporters of the arts, as well as Klimt himself. Upon the seizure of the work, and its subsequent return to the Block-Bauer heirs in 2006, the portrait was sold, along with other works, which include another portrait of Adele, executed in 1907, to multiple collections. While Adele Bloch-Bauer II is in the possession of the Neue Galerie, Adele Bloch-Bauer I is in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, collection. 

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