Gustav Klimt and the Belvedere
There are a number of links between the iconic artist Gustav Klimt (18621918) and the Belvedere in Vienna, which houses
the worlds greatest collection of Austrian art. It was on the initiative of Klimt and other artists that the Moderne Galerie was founded in 1903, the institution that has evolved into the Belvedere. The aim was to create a place for contemporary
Austrian art and to present this in an international context. The Belvederes curatorial work and exhibitions are based
on this premise to this day.
Worlds Largest Collection of Klimts Paintings
With twenty-four works, the Belvedere holds the worlds largest collection of oil paintings by this iconic artist, including
the two masterpieces from his Golden Period, Kiss (Lovers) and Judith, major portraits (Sonja Knips, Fritza Riedler, and Johanna Staude etc.), landscapes, and allegorical depictions. The collection also includes one of Klimts sketchbooks and his monumental
Beethoven Frieze at the Vienna Secession.
Gustav Klimts masterpieces are on permanent display at the Upper Belvedere. In this comprehensive collection, Klimts
development can be traced from his early explorations of Historicism through to Secessionism and finally to his late work,
which reveals the influence of the Fauves and the younger generation of Austrian artists such as Egon Schiele.
Highlight: Kiss (Lovers)
The collections undisputed highlight is Klimts world-famous masterpiece the Kiss (Lovers), an allegorical depiction of lovers locked together in an embrace. Covering a surface of almost four square metres, Klimts
personal style is impressively conveyed. Always receptive to new artistic accomplishments and ideas, this work combines design
principles from Japanese art, inspiration from Byzantine mosaics and medieval panel paintings as well as the influence of
Auguste Rodin, George Minne, and Edvard Munch. Through its exquisite ornamentation and its silver and gold applications, the
couple seem removed from the perils of earthly existence and suffering. Kiss (Lovers) marks the culmination of the phase in Klimts art in which he explored the contrast between naturalistic, delicately
painted passages of skin, and a planar, ornamental approach. The role of ornament was to communicate the pictures symbolic