Analyze the painting The Park by Gustav Klimt.

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epic-art-time | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The Park by Gustav Klimt is a square oil painting that measures 43.5 x 43.5 inches in diameter.  The painting depicts a park filled with trees that exhibit extremely lush foliage.  The majority of the painting is taken up by an area of dense pattern representing the leaves on the trees.  Speckles of light blue are scattered throughout the leaf pattern to suggest that there is a glimpse of sky beyond the trees.  The tree trunks peek through the leaves in some spots breaking up the consistency in the pattern.  Only a small area at the bottom of the painting is devoted to capturing an illusion of space.  In this area Klimt has painted tree trunks of various thicknesses, grass covered middle ground that gets darker as it goes back in space, and a bluish white background behind the trunks; all of which suggest receding space.

Klimt executed the painting in oils using a post-impressionistic style.  The eNotes/Wikipedia page on Post-Impressionism defines the style as a continuation of Impressionism in which artists,

continued using vivid colours, thick application of paint, distinctive brush strokes, and real-life subject matter, but they were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, to distort form for expressive effect, and to use unnatural or arbitrary colour.

In The Park, Klimt applied the oil color for his foliage in small, pattern-like strokes in a process that reminds the viewer of a cross between the visual color mixing of Seurat and the expressive color strokes of Van Gogh.   The tree trunks on the other hand are painted with a distinct decorative style that is reminiscent of Klimt’s more recognizable figurative work.  Both pattern techniques succeed in flattening the areas in which they are used, providing a contrast to the areas where the artist has succeeded in creating an illusion of space.

Klimt has used the Art Elements of texture, color and space in The Park.  He has used the Art Principles of Pattern and Repetition in the foliage; Variety and Contrast in the pairing of the flat texture and the illusion of spatial depth; and Unity in the harmonious distribution of color and texture.

I believe the meaning of The Park to be about the serenity of the outdoor space Klimt was painting.  I think he was trying to express the effect of looking up at the leaves on the trees and getting lost in the beauty.  The real world gets pushed back, just like the space behind the trees, and you can just focus on the beauty and serenity of the surrounding foliage.

The work is important because it shows a different side to Gustav Klimt, who is mostly known for his slightly erotic, symbolist compositions involving female figures.  It is another example of how artists can use creativity and skill to create different interpretations of different subject matter.  The Park is also important because it is an excellent example of how artists use expressive paint application and color choices to convey expression in Post-Impressionistic art.

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