Gustav Klimt was born on July 14, 1862 near Vienna, Austria. He was the second of seven children in an artistic family. His mother loved music and his father was a gold engraver. His brothers were also artistic and they were encouraged to develop their skill as children. In his teens, Gustav went to art school with his brothers and formed a group called the “Company of Artists” with another friend and the 4 teens had great success doing murals in public buildings and aiding better known artists in their work.
In 1892, Gustav’s father and brother both died, which had a great effect on his work. He became the chief support for his family. His turned to the much more stylized look that he would become famous for. This is also the time that he met Emilie Louise Flöge, who was his life-long love and companion. (The painting “The Kiss” is of them.) Emilie was a fashion designer and they would work closely together, influencing each other’s art for the rest of their lives. He would help design her costumes. If you look at his paintings with this in mind, you can see the influence of fashion, as well as the textural quality—almost like fabric on the clothing. Gustav had 14 children.
Gustav Klimt enjoyed mush success and notoriety in his life. The government in Vienna was nurturing to the arts and he was appointed the as the president of a government supported group that encouraged the arts and sought to bring new artists to Vienna. Interestingly, there was no manifesto—this wasn’t an art movement, per se. They encouraged all of the different styles and everyone worked and exhibited together. While Klimt’s work was often in limelight, he himself was a quiet and reclusive figure. He painted deliberately with great attention to detail and worked hard. While he collaborated with many other artists on projects, he did not like to socialize with many people. He worked day and night and rarely spent time with people outside of his family.
Just like his personality, Gustav Klimt’s work can seem contradictory. His figure paintings are boldly geometrical and patterned contrasted with ethereal highly detailed brushwork on the people themselves. His landscapes have a similar, very refined quality and did not include the use of gold leaf like his figure paintings did.
Today we are going to try our hand at incorporating metallic elements into a painting. Since this project could get a little complicated, there will be a simple example and a more detailed example. For grades kindergarten-second, just show the simple example.
1. Very lightly, sketch out your design.
2. Decide where to put the foil and cut out the basic shape, then lay it down on the paper and trim as needed.
3. Carefully, glue the back of the foil with the glue stick. Hold the top with your finger and move in one direction. Press lightly, it is easy to tear the foil.
4. Put the foil on the paper and smooth down. Glue any edges that need it.
5. Water color the rest of the picture.