Born July 17, 1862 (Baumgarten, Penzing, Vienna, Austria); died February 6, 1918 (Vienna, Austria)
Symbolist and art nouveau painter and designer; sensual and erotic depictions of women; highly ornamental with gilding and flowing decorations
To know: A controversial artist in his lifetime, Klimt was both loved and hated by the public, the establishment, and the critics. He was often the target of violent criticism, and his work was sometimes displayed behind a screen to avoid corrupting the sensibilities of the young. In 1900, he was incriminated for pornography and excessive perversion. Klimt’s emphasis on the importance of sexuality as the determining element of life was shocking at the time, but he created the erotic prelude to modern sexuality, of which expressionism and surrealism made constant use.