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The Study of :. GUSTAV KLIMT and Art Nouveau. Time and Place:. Vienna during the 1890’s. This Austrian Capital was a vital cultural and scientific center. Interactive map of Austria.

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GUSTAV KLIMT and Art Nouveau

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The Study of:



Art Nouveau


Time and Place:

Vienna during the 1890’s

This Austrian Capital was a vital cultural and scientific center.

Interactive map of Austria


“I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word, especially if I have to say something about myself or my work. Whoever wants to know something about me -as an artist, the only notable thing- ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do." Gustav Klimt


The work of the Austrian painter and illustrator Gustav Klimt, b. July 14, 1862, d. Feb. 6, 1918, founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Secession, embodies the high-keyed free spirited, psychological, and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the-century Vienna's dazzling intellectual world.

He has been called the top example of ART NOUVEAU.


What is Art Nouveau? (sounds like - art new vO)

art nou·veau–noun

Fine Arts. Means “new art”. This was a movement that developed during the 1890’s. Some characteristics include handmade materials and flat patterns based on stylized plant forms.

Googled Images


Art Nouveau (French for 'new art')

The name 'Art Nouveau' derived from the name of a shop in Paris, Maison de l'Art Nouveau, at the time run by Siegfried Bing, that showcased objects that followed this approach to design. The style introduced by Bing was not an immediate success in Paris but rapidly spread to Nancy and to Belgium(especially Brussels) where Victor Horta and Henry Van de Velde would make major contributions in the field of architecture and design. In the United Kingdom Art Nouveau developed out of the Arts and Crafts Movement.



Klimt visited Ravenna, Italy, where he saw early Christian mosaics made from bits of stone and glass that inspired him to paint the patterns in his artwork.

Death and Life


Two portraits of Emily Floge

He earlier work is a highly realistic, formal portrait.

The second portrait has a stylized dream-like quality with a realistic face.

Emily Floge at the age of 17, 1891.

Portrait of Emily Floge, 1902


In this composition Klimt incorporated many design elements, such as, complementary colors yellow (gold) and blue and repeated patterns of shapes.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I 1907

Oil and gold on canvas, 138 x 138; Austrian Gallery, Vienna Adele Bloch-Bauer clasping her hands (she had a deformed finger). Dressed in gold, surrounded by gold. A very gold picture.


Portrait of Eugenia Primavesi1913-1914

Klimt, Gustav Oil on canvas 140 x 85 cmToyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota City, Japan

The women in many of Klimt’s portraits were the wives of wealthy Viennese businessmen and art collectors.


Medicine (Hygieia)

1900 – 07

Format 430 x 300 cm

Technique Oil on canvas

Location Burned in Schlob Immendorf, Austria, 1945

The University of Vienna rejected Klimt’s Medicine mural because his mystical, snake handling priestess did not fit the University professors’ image of the physician as a scientist and healer.


The Kiss Year 1907 – 08

Format180 x 180 cm

Technique Oil on canvas

Location Vienna, Osterreichische Museum für Angewandte Kunst


Mäda Primavesi (1903–2000), 1912Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862–1918)Gift of André and Clara Mertens, in memory of her mother, Jenny Pulitzer Steiner, 1964 (64.148)

In this portrait, the flower in Mada’s hair and the row of flowers across her dress link her with the floral patterns in the rug and wallpaper. Klimt’s style became freer with fewer dense patterns and hard edges in his later years.


Hope, II. 1907-08.

Gustav Klimt. (Austrian, 1862-1918). Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas, 43 1/2 x 43 1/2" (110.5 x 110.5 cm). Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and Helen Acheson Funds, and Serge Sabarsky


Hope II (See previous slide)

A pregnant woman bows her head and closes her eyes, as if praying for the safety of her child. Peeping out from behind her stomach is a death's head, sign of the danger she faces. At her feet, three women with bowed heads raise their hands, presumably also in prayer—although their solemnity might also imply mourning, as if they foresaw the child's fate.

Why, then, the painting's title? Although Klimt himself called this work Vision, he had called an earlier, related painting of a pregnant woman Hope. By association with the earlier work, this one has become known as Hope, II. There is, however, a richness here to balance the women's gravity.

Klimt was among the many artists of his time who were inspired by sources not only within Europe but far beyond it. He lived in Vienna, a crossroads of East and West, and he drew on such sources as Byzantine art, Mycenean metalwork, Persian rugs and miniatures, the mosaics of the Ravenna churches, and Japanese screens. In this painting the woman's gold-patterned robe—drawn flat, as clothes are in Russian icons, although her skin is rounded and dimensional—has an extraordinary decorative beauty. Here, birth, death, and the sensuality of the living exist side by side suspended in equilibrium.


Gustav KlimtBaby (Cradle), 1917/1918Gift of Otto and Franciska Kallir with the help of the Carol and Edwin Gaines Fullinwider Fund1978.


In his landscapes, Klimt left out the human figure. He preferred to concentrate on the patterns formed by the plants and flowers.

Why might Beech Forest I be considered a “painted mosaic”?

Klimt used small quick brushstrokes to form a glittering pattern of orange and yellow dots, dashes, and scribbles that resemble tiles in a mosaic.

Beech Forest I, 1902


Contemporary Mosaic by Laurel True

Farm Garden with Sunflower, 1905

tree of life
Tree of Life
  • There is a vast amount of detail in this painting.
  • Notice the “Egyptian eye” sprouting from the branches.
  • There are triangles, swirls, and circles within circles.
  • The colors intensify as you get at the flower garden on the ground.
  • Made from gold and ceramic tiles, exotic woods, glass, and jewels.
  • Tree symbolizes life cycles. Seedpods and other organic shapes represents creativity and rebirth; the black bird symbolizes death.
gustav klimt assessment working with pattern write the questions and answers in your notebook
Gustav Klimt - Assessment Working with PatternWrite the questions and answers in your notebook.
  • What kind of city was Vienna during the 1890s?
  • What is Art Nouveau?
  • How does Klimt’s style differ in the two portraits of Emily Floge?
  • Why did the university of Vienna reject Klimt’s Medicine mural?
  • What did Klimt see in 1903 that would inspire the patterns in his artwork?
  • What are some general characteristics of Klimt’s landscapes?

Why might Beech Forest I be considered a “painted mosaic”?

  • What materials did Klimt use to create Tree of Life?
  • What are some of the symbols in the Tree of Life?
  • Who were the women in many of Klimt’s portraits?
  • What elements did Klimt incorporate into paintings such as Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer?
  • In Portrait of Mada Primavesi, what elements link the subject with her surroundings?

Art Making –

Lesson 1 – Tree of Life

  • You will create your own “Tree of Life”.
  • In pencil, lightly draw your tree of life…swirl the branches, add patterns (eyes, circles in circles, etc.)
  • Make your tree touch all sides of the paper.
  • Do not shade your drawing.
  • You will color your design when I return.
lesson 1 tree of life art nouveau style
Lesson 1 – Tree of Life – Art Nouveau Style
  • You will create your own “Tree of Life”.
  • In pencil, lightly draw your tree of life…swirl the branches, add patterns (eyes, circles in circles, etc.)
  • Make your tree touch all sides of the paper.
  • Do not shade your drawing.
  • You will color your design when I return.