The legacy of Gustav Klimt and his enduring ‘Kiss’

In the late 1800s, Gustav Klimt mastered classical style painting while working on art commissions with murals on public and sacred buildings.

Klimt Villa

When his brother and father died back to back, he started creating art that reflected his life and pain.

He left the conservative Vienna Artists Association and founded Vienna Secession Movement alongside like minded creators. He was able to create freely.

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Eight years after that (1900), Klimt exhibited “Philosophy,” 1 of 3 paintings for the University of Vienna’s Great Hall. University staff were outraged at its pornographic nature. They created a petition to keep his art off university grounds.

Wikimedia Commons

The pretty big deal

Gustav Klimt

He took his rejected murals to Paris shortly after. One of them, “Medicine,” won Grand Prix at the World's Fair. This was the beginning of Klimt’s immortality and fame.

Wikimedia Commons

From there, his works always ranked in the highest price categories. For perspective, in 1908, his painting “The Kiss” was bought by Austria’s government on the same day it was exhibited.

Gustav Klimt

They purchased it for 25,000 crowns, about $185,000 in today’s money, which would be the equivalent of millions.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel to Vienna’s Belvedere Museum to experience “The Kiss.” It’s a piece by Klimt that cannot be sold.

Belvedere Vienna

In 2006, Oprah Winfrey purchased his “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” for about $90 million. Ten years later, she sold it for $150 million.

Wikimedia Commons

A Russian billionaire Russian investor sold Klimt’s “Water Serpents II” for $170 million.

Wikimedia Commons

Klimt’s art created an image of romanticism that’s still desired. A romantic love that is erotic but tender. 100 years later, he’s remembered for his feats of artistic and intellectual expression.