Gustav Klimt’s art and the female body
Gustav Klimt – Nineteenth century Austrian symbolist painter is known for the highly decorative style of his works, the lover of Asian art. He was one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body.
In 1891, Gustav’s brother Ernst married a woman named Helene Flöge, and that same year, Gustav painted a portrait of her sister, Emilie for the first time. Some people say that Klimt’s most important and enduring relationship was with Emilie Flöge, talented dress maker and successful business woman who was the artists’ lifetime companion and confidante as well as stylist of many women posing for him. Her designs were distinctly modern, that eschewed the restricting corset in favor of loosely flowing garments that offered a freedom and ease of motion. She is said to be the model for Klimt’s famous painting The Kiss.
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Emilie Flöge (1902–03) Courtesy of the Wien Museum, Vienna
Serena Lederer, Elisabeth Lederer
Serena Lederer was renowned in the city of Vienna for her beauty and style. Her 1899 portrait was one of the artist’s very first portrait commissions. Although she failed to commission a second Klimt portrait of herself, he painted three generations of her family: daughter Elisabeth Lederer and her mother.
Ria Munk, Szerena Lederer’s niece. At age 24, in 1911, Munk committed suicide because of an unhappy love affair with writer Hanns Heinz Ewer. Klimt was brought in to paint Munk on her deathbed.
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Ria Munk III (1917) unfinished Courtesy of the Lewis Collection
Gertha Loew managed her father’s sanatorium, where Klimt was treated following his fatal stroke in 1918. The portrait is thought to have been commissioned by Gertha Loew’s mother, Sophie, as present for her husband, Anton, at the time of their daughter’s marriage. Sophie knew Klimt well, and had been the subject of several of the artist’s portrait drawings some years before.
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Gertha Loew (1902) Courtesy of Neue Galerie./the Lewis Collection
Mäda Primavesi – a girl of just nine years old when Klimt painted her in 1912. Remarkable for its bold, confident pose, and imposing stature, Primavesi’s portrait depicts a growing girl with remarkable sensitivity. Her parents belonged to Klimt’s best collectors, and her mother, Eugenia, also commissioned a portrait of herself in the same year. Primavesi’s flowered dress was made by Flöge, at Klimt’s suggestion, specifically for the portrait.
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Mäda Primavesi (1912) Courtesy of Neue Galerie and The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Klimt’s iconic golden portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was years in the making. Completed in 1907. There are many unsubstantiated rumors that Klimt and Bloch-Bauer had an affair, though she was married to the industrialist 17 years older than her.
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) Courtesy of Neue Galerie
To see the sensual and original paintings of women painted by Ania Luk, click on the graphic below: