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Gustav Klimt is known mostly for his highly decorative paintings of the female figure in evocative poses. Klimt worked in a manner that is a cross between the Art Nouveau and Symbolist style.
The eNotes/Wikipedia page on symbolist painting says that,
The symbolist painters mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul, seeking evocative paintings that brought to mind a static world of silence.
Klimt’s work did indeed embody this highly exaggerated romanic style, and many of the subjects of his paintings involve dreamy scenarios and mythological figures such as Athena and Danaë
The Art Nouveau style was created by poster artists, jewelry makers and sculptors. It is characterized by swirling organic flat shapes, and areas of high decoration, both of which are elements in the painting Death and Life by Gustav Klimt. In this painting, the human figures on the right voluptuously curve and twist around each other providing a stark contrast to the areas of brightly colored, decorative pattern. This type of contrast is present in many of Klimt’s pieces.
This painting is also an excellent example of the Symbolist style. Bright colors and patterns surround the figures that are very much caught in a dream-like state. The death figure on the left is covered in funerary crosses and other symbols that emphasize the eminence of death.
Most of Klimt’s work such as Death and Life was done with oil paint on canvas, but many of his most famous pieces such as The Kiss involved the use of gold leaf. It is said, in Gardner’s Art Through the Ages (edition 10) on page 1036, that Klimt got inspiration from gilded Byzantine art he saw while visiting Ravenna. His father was also a gold engraver and this may have also affected his decision to use the precious metal in his work.
Klimt was also know to use expressive paint strokes along with emotional use of color in a manner similar to that of the Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh and Cezanne. This can be seen in his paintings such as Avenue in Schloss Kammer Park and The Park.
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