Gustav Klimt's Death and Life

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  • Topic: Vienna, Egon Schiele, J. Paul Getty
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  • Published : December 18, 2012
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Death and Life

Gustav Kilmt was born July 14, 1862 in Baumgartner, Austria where his incredible talent was discovered at a young age. At age fourteen, he entered the School of Arts and Crafts of Vienna where he studied for the next seven years. For the next forty-six years, Klimt would present his talents in both his drawings and paintings; one of them being his artwork Death and Life.

In 1910, Klimt created this oil on canvas painting but reworked and finished it in 1915. In 1911, his painting, originally named “Tod und Leben”, won first place at the International Art Exhibition in Rome, Italy. Klimt described this work as his most important and figurative piece of art yet. The 178 x 198 cm Death and Life painting can currently be found in the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Klimt was able to create this artwork by using the process of oil on canvas with paints as his medium as well as many other elements that eventually build the canvas into an exceptional piece of art.

Klimt’ s purpose in the artwork is to distinctly represent death and life and does so by sticking to a certain style. This makes this allegoric painting a representational one although not naturalistic because the figures are not represented as we see them in reality. The grim reaper on the left covered with grave markers represents death while the figures drawn on the right do the

same for life. For life, we can see that Klimt made sure to include different generations by painting several individuals ranging from an infant to a grandmother to properly represent life.

Many visual elements contribute to the piece, one of them being color who plays a major role in the effect given by the painting. It is capable of successfully creating such a strong emotional effect. A dark presence is presented with dim hues while vivid colors are used for life. The role of the colors majorly contributes to its symbolism and to how it might be interpreted.

Klimt is...
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