Gustav Klimt passion for the feminine form is very much apparent in his artistic works. The eroticism in his paintings has brought a variety of reaction from disparate groups of critics in his lifetime and posthumously. “The most important element of his fame is his reputation as a master of eroticism”, one author wrote. One other thing that is associated with Klimt is the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession} which he co-founded in 1987. It was indicated that this action was a revolt against academic art in favor of a decorative style similar to Art Nouveau.
The Secession as the name indicated was a separation from the conservative Kunstlerhaus which was the only Viennese venue for contemporary art. Its purpose was to inject fresh perspectives to Austrian art with exchanges from foreign artists as well as sponsor exhibitions for unconventional artists. The Secession also promoted an integration of the fine and applied arts which also resulted to the Weiner Werkstatte in 1908 which is a cooperative enterprise for crafts and design.
The Secession did not encourage any particular style. Realists, naturalists, and symbolists composed this group. This diversity contributed in the Secession’s subsequent disintegration. The Naturalists Traditionalists distanced themselves from Klimt’s clique which was referred to as the Stylists. While they did not object to the applied arts per se, they drew the line at the full merger of craft and art advocated by the Stylists.
Furthermore, the Naturalists resented the broadened economic base which the Wiener Werkstatte afforded their rivals. Klimt’s separation from The Secession left him with no other membership in a major association except with the Wiener Werkstatte. Of critics of his art and his decision, Klimt has this to say, “If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad. ” This may perhaps be his philosophy in life but his contemporary times and the posthumous adulations may beg to differ.
In 2006, the 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, was purchased for the Neue Galerie in New York by Ronald Lauder for a reported US $135 million, surpassing Picasso’s 1905 Boy With a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million), as the highest reported price ever paid for a painting. . The Vienna Secession did brought to the fore some famous artists other than Klimt. This may be part of his legacy which included so many and so priceless.