Gustav Klimt the Draftsman

Standing Female Nude (Study for "The Three Gorgons" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Gustav Klimt holds a unique position worldwide as a phenomenal draftsman. At the center of his more than 4,000 sheets of drawings is the human figure—especially the female figure.

Reclining Nude with Leg Raised (1912-1913) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

From 1900 onward, he revolutionized the depiction of the naked figure. His refined erotic studies were groundbreaking for the way the Austrian Expressionists, especially Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, depicted people free of taboos.

Two Crouching Nudes; Two Seated Woman (Study for "The Suffering of Weak Humanity" and "Gnawing Grief" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

But Klimt also paved the way for his younger colleagues through his allegorical figure studies for "The Suffering of Weak Humanity".

Standing Woman in Profile (Study for "The Three Ages of Woman") (1904-1905) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt strictly followed his own tradition of creating series of drawings of naked or clothed models. Numerous studies of men and women of all ages as well as children emerged within the context of his painted life allegories.

Five Studies of a Sleeping Baby (Study for the first version of "Medicine", 1901) (1900-1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Two Studies of a Reclining Draped Figure (Studies for "Longing for Happiness" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

By tirelessly focusing on the poses and gestures of his figures, he uncovers the essence of certain emotions or existential situations. As if in a trance, his figures tied to the picture plane seem to follow an invisible sense of order, whether they are dreaming, meditating, or in a state of erotic ecstasy.

Seated Woman with Head Propped (Study for oil sketch for "Philosophy") (1897-1898) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Reclining Woman (Study for "Water Snakes II", first version) (1904) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Behind this method of depiction is the idea of humanity's fateful connection with the cycle of life, determined by Eros, Love, Birth, and Death.

Standing Woman, Leaning on a Chair (Study for the portrait "Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann") (1900-1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

His many studies for female portraits also convey the impression of being majestically detached from reality.

Head of a Reclining Man (Study for "Theater in Taomina", Burgtheater Vienna) (1886-1887) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt's figures are in equal measure sensual and transcendent. Characteristic of his line art is the the subtle balance between effortlessness and discipline. His masterful handling of line reveals itself through every phase of his development as a draftsman. In the 1880s, it was characterized by photo-realistic precision.

Embracing Couple (Study for "This Kiss to the Whole World" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Around 1900, he developed a flowing, linear style.

Standing Female Nude with Raised Right Leg (Study for "The Three Gorgons" of the "Beethoven Frieze") (1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Lady in Profile, with Hat (1904-1905) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

The drawings of his Golden Style period are dominated by a metallic, linear sharpness.

Standing Woman, Wrappes in Sheets (Study for the portrait "Ria Munk III") (c. 1917) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

In his later years, Klimt's lines exhibit a nervousness of expression.

Floating Woman with Outstretched Arm (Study for the first version of "Medicine") (c. 1900-1901) by Gustav KlimtAlbertina Museum

Klimt's drawings are a world apart. Through the immediacy of their expression, they provide deep insights into the working methods and spiritual world of the artist.

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