Gustav Klimt is one of the most innovative and representative painters of the late 19th – early 20th century: with his works he showed us a different idea of ​​woman and passion, knowing how to skillfully interpret the Belle Epoque. Let’s retrace together the five best known works by Gustav Klimt. All five are characterized by a marked sensuality and elegance, as well as by a dense symbolism and a massive use of gold, which further embellishes them. Judith and the head of Holofernes (1901)
Judith I is considered to be the first work of Gustav Klimt’s golden period, characterized by a language of strong symbolic abstraction and the massive use of gold. Enclosed in a rough wooden frame (made by his brother Georg, sculptor, carpenter and longshoreman), the subject is used as a metaphor for the power of seduction of women, which manages to overcome even the most brutal virile strength. In a symbolist climate, the figure of Judith obviously lends itself to the exaltation of the cruel and seductive femme fatale, who leads her lover to ruin and death. Behind the head of Judith is represented an archaic and stylized landscape of fig trees and vines, taken from an Assyrian frieze of the Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh. The three ages of life (1905)
This painting by Gustav Klimt won the prize at the 1911 International Art Exhibition in Rome and the following year it was purchased by the National Gallery of Modern Art. The canvas combines geometrical decorativism with an unexpected psychological introspection in the expressions of the three figures: the dramatic premonition of the end in old age, the protective tenderness in the young woman and the safe abandonment of the child. The kiss (1907-1908)
This work, in full accordance with the canons of the Art Nouveau style, is painted on canvas with decorations and mosaics (Klimt had a penchant for Ravenna mosaics) in gold in the background. The man, standing, bends over to kiss the woman who is kneeling on the lawn among the flowers and seems to accept the kiss, participating emotionally. The face of the woman and hers enclosed in the hands of her lover, who has her arm on her neck. Klimt dressed, and it is curious to note, the characters of him with the long tunic that he used to wear. The geometric shapes are quite allusive, rectangles positioned vertically are depicted on the man’s dress, concentric circles are depicted on the woman’s dress, both geometric shapes recall the sex of the subjects wearing those tunics.The Kiss by Klimt – watch the Video Danae (1907-1908)
Klimt deals with a subject taken from ancient Greek mythology: Danae was fertilized in her sleep by Zeus, who turned into a shower of gold. The girl is represented curled up in the foreground, folded in on herself, wrapped in a circular shape, which refers to motherhood and universal fertility. Serenity and peace can be read on her face and in the fetal position of the girl. Danae becomes a girl lost in sleep and in the dream dimension, she is totally forgetful of herself and at the mercy of her own sexual instincts. In no other painting by Klimt is woman so entirely identified with her own sexuality. The completely abandoned body of Danae is surrounded and covered by her hair, by an oriental veil and on the left by a shower of gold. In the roar of the golden rain, which echoes with Byzantine preciousness,The virgin (1912-1913) With
a whirling rhythm, the work depicts a group of female bodies that seem entangled. At the center of them dominates a woman (probably the virgin, who gives the title of the work), dressed in a dress adorned with spiral motifs, who extends her arms in an ecstatic attitude. This gesture alludes to the ‘awakening’ of her feelings and her sexual desire. The association of beauty with such unnatural poses is meant to be an allusion to the fleetingness of life, a reflection of the decadence of contemporary society.

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