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Gustav Klimt

(1862—1918) Austrian painter and designer

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Austrian painter whose sensual decorativeness gave a distinctive expression to Art Nouveau.

Klimt's early work was impressionist in inspiration, but the influences of symbolism and Art Nouveau led him to found the anti-academic Vienna Sezession in 1897. Klimt became known for jewel-like allegorical subjects, in which his lavish use of gold is reminiscent of Byzantine icons. He also painted numerous enigmatic female portraits, such as those of Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein (1905) and Mme Fritsa Riedler (1906). Klimt's best-known work, reproduced on millions of postcards, posters, and calendars, is probably the erotic The Kiss (1909), now in the Museé des Beaux-arts, Strasbourg. Klimt was also highly influential in interior decoration, for example in his murals for the Vienna Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. He also designed the mosaics for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels.

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