Where to Catch Gustav Klimt Around the World

This Viennese artist scandalized European society with brazen eroticism and a lust for gold

By Google Arts & Culture

Gustav Klimt on Lake Attersee (1904) by Moriz NährKlimt Foundation

Gustav Klimt lived during a golden epoch of Viennese art. Between his birth in 1862 and death in 1918, he immersed himself in the European avant garde, producing all sorts of paintings, murals, sketches, and other works.

Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, the historic capital of the Austrian Empire. He never left his homeland, though he took influence from cultures across the world and found international acclaim. So it's no surprise that today his art can be found all over the world…

The Kiss (1908-1909) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere

The Belvedere, Austria

The Kiss, probably the most popular work by Gustav Klimt, was first exhibited in 1908 at the Kunstschau art exhibition on the site of today’s Konzerthaus. It was immediately bought by the state, and exhibited as an icon of modern, European art.

Klimt found inspiration for this work in 1903 on a journey to Ravenna to see the Byzantine mosaics. He connects these precious objects of religious devotion to young love, wrapping the pair in glittering gold.

The Belvedere, Austria

The Belvedere was originally built in the early 1700s as a Vienna residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1903, the first public modern art gallery in Austria was housed in a wing of the palace. To this day, this gallery remains one of the greatest collections in Austria.

Nine Cartoons for the Execution of a Frieze for the Dining Room of Stoclet House in Brussels: Part 6, Rosebush (1910–1911) by Gustav KlimtMAK – Museum of Applied Arts

MAK Museum of Applied Arts, Austria

Also in Vienna, you can find an array of designs for friezes, installed in the dining room of Stoclet Palace in Brussels. Klimt drew up a total of 9 full size designs, also known as cartoons, which were realised in mosaic by fellow artist Leopold Forstner.

This section, known as the Rosebush, incorporates designs and symbols typical of Jugendstil and the artists of the Vienna Secession. Flowers, butterflies, and an eye of Horus, taken from ancient Egyptian art, lend the frieze an enigmatic, mysterious quality.

MAK Museum of Applied Arts, Austria

These cartoons are held at the Museum of Applied Arts. Founded in 1863 to provide artists, craftsmen, and industrialists with an education in modern styles and reference points; ranging from Baroque and Rococo to Japonisme and Art Nouveau.

The Virgin (1913/1913) by Gustav KlimtNational Gallery Prague

National Gallery Prague, Czechia

This esoteric painting, titled The Virgin, depicts seven women, representing different stages of life, intertwined amongst a pile of richly decorated floral fabrics, which hint to purity and beginnings, as well as blossoming womanhood and burgeoning sexuality.

Their bodies, wrapped in a circle, describe the cycle of life. As your eyes follow the circle of bodies, you see warm pink skin and firm flesh of young girls fade to a faceless, skeletal, cold yellow body.

National Gallery Prague, Czechia

Throughout Klimt's life, the country known today as Czechia was one of the many regions of the Austrian Empire. Klimt's father was from this region, so Klimt is regarded as a sort of compatriot by many Czechs today.

Mäda Primavesi (1903–2000) (1912/1913) by Gustav KlimtThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA

Besides allegories and fantasies, Klimt turns his hand to portraiture. This painting of Mäda Primavesi was made when she was 9 years old. Klimt shows her with a remarkable degree of confidence for such a young girl, yet he sets her amongst a pastel, spring-like landscape.

The picture testifies to the sophisticated taste of her parents, banker and industrialist Otto Primavesi and his wife Eugenia, who were ardent supporters of progressive Viennese art and design.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA

The portrait of Mäda Primavesi is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Met is fortunate to also hold a number of sketched nudes, as well as a full length portrait of the Viennese socialite, and close friend, Serena Pulitzer Lederer.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1903/1907) by Gustav KlimtNeue Galerie New York

Neue Galerie New York, USA

Also in New York, this stunning portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Klimt is known for his use of precious metals in his art, and of all his works this has to be the most amazing. Almost the entire canvas is layered with gold leaf, reflecting the brilliance of his subject.

Adele's flushed face, full lips, and fine-veined porcelain flesh are realistic depictions embedded in gold ornament. This high degree of decoration evokes ancient Byzantine mosaics as well as Russian icons, placing her on a par with empresses and saints.

Neue Galerie New York, USA

Established in 2001, the Neue Galerie New York is dedicated to German and Austrian art of the early 20th Century. The collection ranges from Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele to Otto Dix and George Grosz.

Life is a Struggle (Golden Rider) (1903) by Gustav KlimtAichi Prefectural Museum of Art

Aichi Prefectorial Museum of Art, Japan

Klimt, as did so many other artists of his era, drew much inspiration from the art of Japan. It's only fitting that some of his best works are now in Japanese collections. The golden knight of this painting, Life is a Struggle, refers to Dürer's Knight, Death and the Devil.

Regarded as one of Klimt’s most important works, Life is a Struggle was once owned by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's father, and was the first oil painting by Klimt to enter the collection of a public art museum in Japan.

Aichi Prefectorial Museum of Art, Japan

At the Aichi Prefectorial Museum of Art, you will find a collection dedicated to understanding the development of modern art, from the 1900s onwards. Besides Klimt, you can find works from the collections of Fujii Tatsukichi and Kimura Teizo.

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