Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group's periodical Ver Sacrum ("Sacred Spring"). He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group's goals were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the best foreign artists' works to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase members' work. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style - Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts - and Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.
In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, which was called "pornographic". Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language which was more overtly sexual, and hence more disturbing. The public outcry came from all quarters - political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result, they were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist. All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945. His Nuda Verita (1899) defined his bid to further shake up the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above it is a quotation by Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad."
In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental, polychromed sculpture by Max Klinger. Meant for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it did not go on display until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler, with whom Klimt had a respectful relationship.
During this period Klimt did not confine himself to public commissions. Beginning in the late 1890s he took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores of Attersee and painted many of his landscapes there. Klimt was largely interested in painting figures; these works constitute the only genre aside from figure-painting which seriously interested Klimt. Klimt's Attersee paintings are of a number and quality so as to merit a separate appreciation. Formally, the landscapes are characterized by the same refinement of design and emphatic patterning as the figural pieces. Deep space in the Attersee works is so efficiently flattened to a single plane; it is believed that Klimt painted them while looking through a telescope.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Gustav Klimt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Klimt , which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (view authors).
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see timeline and life history Retrieved December 12, 2010
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