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Gustav Klimt: Gold-laced Femininity And Erotic Surrealism

(4 min read) Gustav Klimt, (born July 14th, 1862) was a famous Austrian symbolist and expressionist painter. Famed for his world-renowned golden era painting; “The Kiss”. His demure, often erotic and surreal paintings moved boldly away from traditional styles, and passionately into the fires of suggestion, sexual expression and female identity.

The Kiss painting by Gustav Klimt
The Kiss – A gorgeous example of male-female union, a man, adorned with phallic, long and masculine symbolism and a pan-esque leaf crown, embraces a woman, embellished with round soft and gentle floral imagery. The man brings objectivity and strength; black and white. His lover; the woman offers a burst of color, softness, gentility, and sophistication.

Klimt created a range of strange, opulent and cultured visuals, ranging from murals, sketches, and gold-leafed designs. Focused avidly on the female form, Klimt’s study of femininity was often ostracized; judged as ‘pornographic’ and gratuitous.

However; when we examine Klimt’s bold and gutsy mastery, we see a gorgeously sensual insight into the power, mystery, passion, and love that is encapsulated in the floral decadence of femininity. When compared to other representations of women in the 19th Century art sphere, we see many meek, and mild and acutely unvaried depictions of damsels and dames, undeveloped, under-powered and impersonal.

Klimt offered us a real, raw, anatomically accurate and imperfect array of bewitching femmes, using their bodies, elongated poses and rouged expressions as an inlet to the mind.

The Virgins mosaic reproduction by the mosaic art studio Mosaics Lab
The Virgins – Colourful spirals and explosions of intimacy surround this entangled bundle of female friendship. It seemed Klimt held a real understanding of the connection between women, in these hard times. Mosaic Artwork by Mosaics Lab
The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer artwork by Gustav Klimt
A portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer – classic Klimt symbol and surrealism make up the majority of this entrancing visual, surrounding the fine lady Adele, backed with negative yet textured space.

In his early artistic plight, Klimt was a successful architectural painter, and became more scandalous as his personal work developed and he completed a ceiling mural for the Great Hall at the University of Vienna; this was also branded as distasteful by critics.

Refusing to undertake any further public works after his criticism, he committed to his private study, leading on to the birth of his famous golden phase, where gold leaf and symbol mingled with his moody and witchy female forms.

The photograph of Gustav Klimt
A young Klimt, all of the passion and creativity can be seen behind those striking eyes.
The ceiling mural at the great hall by Gustav Klimt
The ceiling Mural at the Great Hall – criticized as distasteful and pornographic.

Klimt’s keen eye for the power and capacity of femininity and its many forms is most clear in his piece; The Three Ages of Woman, depicting the life cycle of a woman from infancy to old age. In this gorgeously intimate piece, a young, rouge-cheeked mother holds her infant daughter in a loving embrace, overshadowed by the impending cold caress of old age above her in a twisted, dark and seemingly defeated form. The indifferent, often brutal decay of life seems remedied by the floral softness of the relationships between the mother and child in the painting, representing hope through the vast neutrality and certain decay of existence, and the beauty in balance of life and death.

The three ages of woman artwork by Gustav Klimt
The Three Ages of Woman
The close bond between mother and child painting by Gustav Klimt
The close bond between mother and child – Beautifully articulated and decorated with symbols of life.
Sea Serpents painting by Gustav Klimt
Sea Serpents – Elegant, long-bodied women seem to glide through an undetectable body of water, with deeply knowing faces and flowing, flowered hair. Klimt’s mysticism is beautifully represented here.
Danae artwork by Gustav Klimt
Danae – A peaceful, slumbering red-headed woman tastefully enveloped in fine satin and patterned gold.

The famous Tree of Life painting combines his well-beloved female mysticism and connectedness but focuses on the swirling, spiraling movements of the tree of life, representing the fruitfulness of life and its connection to all beings.

This fantastically spiritual piece suggests a deeply numinous nature to its artist; Klimt’s readily awake eyes see not only human divinity but recognize the omnipresence of spiritual power among all things.

The Tree of life painting by Gustav Klimt
The Tree of Life
Mosaic artwork reproduction of the tree of life by Mosaics Lab
Mosaics Artwork reproduction of The Tree of Life by Mosaics Lab

Has Klimt’s work inspired you to add some surrealist charm to your home?

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Kate S.

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  1. Enriqueta E Lemoine
    July 24, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Great selection of Gustav Klimt art work! Also you made me realize the symbolism implicit in his work. Thanks for sahring.

  2. Stephanie
    July 24, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen his work before, but I slept through half of my art history 7am class in college! It’s interesting how much femininity he gave his work and showing off the female body for what it is at that time period.

    • July 25, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      lol!!! I don’t blame you, 7am is too early to learn about history! He is truly fantastic, i love his work.

  3. Diana
    July 24, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    This is a great selection of artwork. I particularly like the mother and child bonding. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Candace Hampton
    July 24, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Great post! I really enjoy art, specially this kind of surrealism. It looks so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Norma
    July 24, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    I love the artists that you chose to post . They really seems to have a great way of expressing their feelings through art.

  6. Reika Misaki
    July 25, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Oh, these are some good works right there! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Vicky Hallnewman
    July 25, 2019 at 2:04 am

    There is a wide selection of art here to see, I must admit, I need to see more art in my life.

  8. Brittany
    July 25, 2019 at 2:35 am

    What interesting art pieces you’ve discussed here in your post! Thanks for sharing all of this info!!!

  9. Krysten Quiles
    July 25, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Oh this is such a great selection. I’ve never heard of Gustav Klimt but I really love his work now!

  10. Neely Moldovan
    July 25, 2019 at 8:00 am

    This is some really gorgeous art! I really love all the colors and imagery!

  11. Lina Melo
    July 25, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I love the works of this artist! the works cultivate an eclectic style, with interest in historical subjects.

  12. Terri Beavers
    July 25, 2019 at 10:23 am

    These are some fascinating pieces of art. I’ve never seen any of these before.

  13. Kalyan Panja
    July 25, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Indeed these work of art are surreal and carry so much meaning. You can just keep looking at them for hours.

  14. Catherine
    July 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    As always, great collection of artwork! These pieces are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Lavern Moore
    July 25, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    I am happy to learn about Klimt. His art is beautiful and inspiring. Very informative.

  16. Indu
    July 25, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Klimt’s work has indeed inspired me to add little surrealist charm to my home.

  17. Andres Escoto
    July 25, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Beautiful mosaics on those pictures. They look amazing!!!

  18. Lorita
    July 25, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Great art! I’m more of a realism or impressionism art kind of person.

  19. Yeah Lifestyle
    July 25, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Wow, stunning collection of art using mosaics, i was captivated by The Kiss, stunning indeed!

  20. Carrie
    July 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    What amazing pieces of art! They are so stunning I could look at them forever!

  21. Norma
    July 25, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Oh my goodness! I love those arts you’ve shared with us. I love the creativity and the uniqueness of each art. I am totally amazed!

  22. Erika Tiara
    July 25, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    See the beautiful art of Gustav Klimt makes me carried away and imagined in its interpretation. They are really amazing masterpieces. Thanks for sharing anyway..

  23. Agnes Dela Cruz
    July 25, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Excellent pieces of art! I love how I am discovering art such as this one. I am in awe.

  24. Sushmita
    July 25, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    Woah! I had no idea about Klimt’s existence! Thanks!

  25. Nish
    July 26, 2019 at 1:47 am

    I adore Klimt’s painting, and what a treat to be shown it in mosaic as well!

  26. Rhonda Albom
    July 26, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Honestly, at first glance I thought I didn’t like it so much, but then looking at the images and reading your words, they came to life. I see them differently and really enjoy their feminity.

    • July 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

      That is 100% one of Klimt’s works characteristics, you can’t help but appreciate his work and contributions to the world of art.

  27. Laura
    July 26, 2019 at 3:26 am

    I saw the painting Kiss when I was in Austria. It was so beautiful x

  28. Erica ~ Erica Ever After
    July 26, 2019 at 4:03 am

    I love the artwork you share on your blog. The lady in the yellow dress is just mesmerizing.

  29. Alexandra Cook
    July 26, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Oh wow, those were a stunning artwork. It would be so happy if I can see them personally.

  30. Crickette
    July 26, 2019 at 5:35 am

    I love art. I’m not very fond of obscure art like these but I always admire the imagination of artists. I always wonder how they see the world with their eyes… so interesting!

  31. Jackline
    July 26, 2019 at 7:15 am

    I’m more of an impressionism when it comes to art..! But surrealism is great too.. Love those mosaics..!

  32. Gervin Khan
    July 26, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Gustav Klimt sounds like a great artist because as of this time his works are still recognize by so many people.

  33. Lyosha
    July 26, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Gustav Klimt is such a talented and great painter, I’d say classic. The kiss is so very often seen everywhere, I like it a lot. Climt is my mother-in-law’s favorite so it’s kinda special to me too

    • July 26, 2019 at 10:59 am

      He tops my list of fave artists for sure, I can’t get enough of his work.

  34. kumamonjeng
    July 26, 2019 at 7:26 am

    I learn about Gustav Klimt when I was moving to my new home because I wanted to get some nice pictures to decorate my new place. I have also seen Gustav Klimt’s artwork when I travel to Europe, most of his famous painting are done with gold. Love the kissed and the tree of life, these are my favorite.

    • July 26, 2019 at 10:58 am

      He is just amazing! Did you end up buying any of his reproductions for your new home?

  35. Tonya Morris
    July 26, 2019 at 7:33 am

    These are some great pieces of art. So interesting to learn about this artist!

  36. Catherine Santiago Jose
    July 26, 2019 at 8:21 am

    These are really a beautiful artwork and Klimt is really a great artist. All of his artwork are from the reality and I love it!

  37. Cynthia Nicoletti
    July 26, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Such amazing artwork have never seen anything like this. Thanks for posting and sharing.

  38. Whitney Morrow
    July 26, 2019 at 9:42 am

    i love how you explained the symbolism. I love learning about the meaning behind paintings! keep posting!

    • July 26, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Thank you so much Whitney, I am so happy you liked the article.

  39. Emily Fata
    July 26, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Gustav Klimt is one of my favourite artists, with Danae and The Kiss being my two favourite pieces of him. I love the way he brings these lovely moments to life on the canvas.

    • July 26, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Same here!!! I’ve always loved his work, he is out of this world, an avant gardiste for sure.

  40. LuciWest
    July 26, 2019 at 10:24 am

    It’s great to remember how groundbreaking Klimt’s work was – and how it still stirs us and makes us think and feel today. His gold phase draws so much of our attention, it’s easy to forget all the other incredible work he did. Your article was just the right amount of visuals and background info, that I now want to dive deeper learning about his life and process and examine more of his work. Thank you!

    • July 26, 2019 at 10:55 am

      I can’t agree more Luci, he is really one of a kind, I am obsessed with his work. So happy you enjoyed the article.

  41. Natalia
    July 26, 2019 at 11:02 am

    The older I get the more I appreciate this kind of art. These pieces are very beautiful! I’d love to have one at my home. 🙂

  42. Angela Tolsma
    July 26, 2019 at 11:16 am

    I think the golden lady is my favorite. What beautiful pieces of art he made!

  43. Kuntala Banerjee
    July 26, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Oh thats amazing. I am learning about history from your art. I am just mesmerized. I have never experienced such an art before.

  44. Gilda Campos
    July 26, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    What beautiful artworks! It is wonderful to meet new artists and see their legacy.

  45. Catherine
    July 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I never get tired of mosaic artwork. What beautiful works of art…thank you for sharing the works of Klimt with us.

  46. Shannon Gurnee
    July 26, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Those are some pretty pieces of art. Love the different pieces you shared.

  47. Dalene Ekirapa
    July 26, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Wow! The Mosaic artwork is so symbolic and I’m loving the interpretation for the first piece of art. It would be great for one of the bedroom walls.

  48. Britney
    July 26, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    These are so extraordinarily beautiful! I especially love the mother and child one.

  49. Christa
    July 26, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Klimt is one of my favorites! I had The Tree of Life poster hanging in my college dorm.

  50. Dennis
    July 26, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    These artworks are really stunningly beautiful! I am so amazed to see people who can create such masterpieces.

  51. Aditi
    July 26, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Wow! Thanks for this roundup. loved seeing the beautiful works of art by Klimt.

  52. Kathy Kenny Ngo
    July 26, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    The Kiss is one of those pieces of art that I dream of having at home. I know I’ll never have the original one but even a replica of it in another form would be awesome.

  53. Tiffany
    July 26, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    There are so many intricacies and details that I was so oblivious to. I have seen a few of Klimt’s paintings before but never fully understood the depth of the painting.

  54. Brittany
    July 27, 2019 at 2:55 am

    Wow i’ve never seen this art before. It is very interesting and very intricate and colorful.

  55. Rosey
    July 27, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I imagine the disappointment after the ceiling mural and other public ridicule was difficult. Good for him that he kept pursuing his passion.

  56. Melanie williams
    July 27, 2019 at 9:02 am

    I like to look at art for sure. We are always visiting various museums and galleries. xx

  57. Mudpiefridays
    July 27, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Lovely collections of artwork. Those were a stunning pieces and it would be great if I can see them [personally.

  58. Ewa
    July 27, 2019 at 11:27 am

    I would like to see Gustav Klimt paintings in real. The colors look mesmerizing.

  59. Lisa
    July 27, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    We saw this in Vienna and it was incredible. Klimt’s work is outstanding and the mosaic detail is just mesmerising!

  60. Lavern Moore
    July 27, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    This art is so interesting I had to come back for another peek! I want to really admire the symbolism and eclectic elements that other readers have pointed out!

  61. Fae Celine
    July 27, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    such an amazing art! My favorite was the mother and child bonding

  62. Melissa
    July 28, 2019 at 11:34 am

    I love Klimt dreamy artwork and the way he incorporates gold and nature’s elements into his paintings.

  63. Angela
    July 28, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I had not seen this work before, but I really enjoy it! Loved learning about this artist!!

  64. Glenda
    July 28, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I really like it all. Especially the wall art and outdoor patio.

  65. Swathi
    July 29, 2019 at 1:15 am

    These are really good art work great on wall art and outdoor patio.

  66. Arunas
    July 29, 2019 at 4:41 am

    Symbolism always looks interesting even if the painting is not my favorite art form. I like that portrait of a young Klim – so expressive!

  67. anna
    July 30, 2019 at 5:59 am

    My bff also has same frame as pic 2. Loved the artwork here and information in general.

  68. Sundeep
    July 30, 2019 at 6:56 am

    This is amazing piece of art. I would love to see these all art.