From the Industrial Revolution to World War I, C. 1850–1914


What is Klimt’s “golden style”?

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist who was the first president of a group called “The Vienna Secession,” a group of artists that favored highly decorative styles aligned to art nouveau, and wanted to break from the conservative artistic traditions of the Austrian Academy. Klimt applied gold leaf to many of his works, the most famous being The Kiss (1907–1908), which depicts two lovers in a vulnerable embrace. The highly decorative style of the piece fits appropriately into the art nouveau aesthetic, but the ornate quality of Klimt’s work belies its complexity. Klimt’s golden masterpieces, and his legacy, are still hotly debated by art critics and historians who argue about his impact on the history of art. But, in 2006, his silver and gold-leafed oil painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) sold for a reported $ 135 million, making it (temporarily) the most expensive painting ever sold.


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