This is no ordinary Golden Anniversary. In 2012, Vienna, Austria will celebrate the 150th birthday of a favorite son, Gustav Klimt with exhibitions, tours and events throughout the city. But he wasn’t always so well accepted; Gustav Klimt was one of the most innovative and controversial artists of the early twentieth century.
Gustav Klimt was born in 1862, the son of a struggling gold and silver engraver in a suburb of Vienna. He and his two brothers all displayed artistic talent early on. Gustav was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. His brother Ernst also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and a friend, Franz Matsch, opened a studio specializing in murals, which was quite successful. So Gustav Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings in the prevailing classical-realist style. In 1892, both Klimt’s father and his brother Ernst died, leaving him financially responsible for both families. It was also during this time that he met Emilie Flöge, who would become his lifelong companion. Flöge was the sister of his brother’s widow, and whether or not this relationship was sexual has been the subject of some debate among scholars.