Gustav Klimt: 1862-1918

Born on July 14, 1862 in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria, Gustav Klimt is considered one of the greatest decorative painters of the 20th century. From 1876 to 1883, he attended the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) where he studied figural drawing and painting. His brother Ernst also enrolled in the school in 1877. By 1880, the Klimt brothers, and fellow student Franz Matschhad had formed a team they called the “Artists’ Company, Klimt Brothers and Matsch”. The group received numerous commissions painting interior murals and ceilings in public buildings including the National Theatre in Bucharest, and the new Burgtheater and Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. After completing the Burgtheater frescoes Klimt was awarded the Austrian Gold Cross for Merit by Emperor Francis Joseph, for his watercolour View of the Interior of the Old Burgtheater.

1892 both Klimt’s father and brother Ernst died, leaving Gustav responsible for both families. Around this time, Klimt met Emilie Flöge, who became his life long companion.  Outside of his relationship with Emilie, Klimt is believed to have fathered fourteen children.

By 1894, Klimt’s style became less academic, his painting taking on a more fantastic and blended style of Art Nouveau and Symbolism that was overtly sexual. Public criticism of his work came after he was commissioned to create three paintings for the Great Hall in the University of Vienna.   Labeled radical, pornographic, and disturbing, the paintings were not displayed.  It was after this, that Klimt refused public commissions.

In 1897, Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Vienna Secession, also known as the Union of Austrian Artists. Secession artists objected to the conservatism of the Vienna Künstlerhaus and was supportive of exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic tradition.

Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’, beginning around 1898, received positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period utilized gold leaf and a common theme was that of the dominant woman or femme fatale. Influences contributing to Klimt’s unique style include Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine. Klimt was also inspired by the engravings of Albrecht Dürer, late medieval European painting, and the Japanese Rimpa school.

Klimt’s later works (1900’s and on) are dominated by portraiture and landscapes of the Attersee, near Salzburg. Overall, his output was relatively small, producing between four and six canvases a year. He was, however,  a prolific draughtsman and several thousand surviving drawings make him one of the most accomplished draughtsmen of his era.

Klimt continued painting up until is death on February 6, 1918, from pneumonia following a stroke.  He was only 56 years old.  Many of his paintings were left unfinished.

For more information about Gustav Klimt, visit the source references below.

Sources: MOMA, Art History Archive, Galerie St. Etienne, Wikipedia,, Artchive (images)
paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting

David Hockney: Painting/Photo Collage

Born on July 9, 1937 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, David Hockney is a painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. He is considered by many to be one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century.

From 1953-57, Hockney studied at the Bradford School of Art  and then at the Royal Collage of Art from 1959-62. He received the Royal College of Art gold medal in 1962 for his paintings and draughtsmanship.

Hockney’s early work was diverse.  He became associated with the British Pop Art movement (though he rejected this label), but his work also displayed expressionist elements. In the late 1960′s his work was “weightier” with a more “traditionally representational manner”.  He spent much of his time in the United States and California swimming pools and homoerotic scenes became a well known themes in his work.

In the 1970′s Hockney worked as a stage designer creating set and costume designs for productions including Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Mozart’s The Magic Flute which were produced at Glyndebourne Opera House. Hockney was the subject of  the 1974 Jack Hazan’s film called “A Bigger Splash” (named after one of Hockney’s swimming pool paintings from 1967).

In the early 1980′s Hockney produced photo collages which he called “joiners” with subject matter from portraits to still life, and from representational to abstract styles. “Using varying numbers of small Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. Because these photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, which was one of Hockney’s major aims—discussing the way human vision works.”

In the mid to late 80′s, Hockney made use of computers, colour photocopiers and fax machines to create artwork. In 1985, he was commissioned to draw with the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch direct onto the monitor. In 1989, he sent work for the Sao Paulo Biennale to Brazil via fax.  Hockney experimented with computers, composing images and colours on the monitor and printing them directly from the computer without proofing.

From the 1990′s onward, Hockney has continued to work on a variety of paintings, photographic and digital work, as well as opera productions. His works have been exhibited across the globe and are in the collections of most major museums.  As well, many of his works are now located in a converted industrial building called Salts Mill, in Saltaire, near his home town of Bradford.

Hockney currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California and London, England. “Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes, and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPadapplication, sending them to his friends.”

For more information about David Hockney, visit

David Hockney-Related Books

paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting