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Gustav Klimt 1862-1918 Born in Vienna, in 1862, into a lower middle-class family of Moravian origin. Gustav Klimt, was an influential Austrian painter of the late 19th Century, one of the founders and leaders of the Vienna Secession art movement, although he would later move beyond it. His father was an engraver and goldsmith. Gustav was sent to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, in order to follow in his father's footsteps. As na exceptional student, he was given the chance to attend classes at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Klimt soon demonstrated his talent and would be commissioned to paint several large decorative works by the age of twenty.
After finishing his studies, Klimt opened a studio together with his two brothers, specialized in interior decoration, particularly theaters. Already by the 1880s, they were renowned for their skill and decorated theaters throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and much of their work can still be seen there. In 1880, Klimt was commissioned to paint the Auditorium of the “ Old Burgtheater” . This painting, with its almost photographic accuracy is considered one of the greatest achievements in Naturalist painting, and was awarded the Emperor's Prize. Paradoxically, it was at this point, that Klimt began turning towards the radical new styles of the Art Noveau. Focusing on experimentation and the study of contemporary styles of art, as well as historical styles that were overlooked within the establishment, such as Japanese, Chinese, Ancient Egyptian and Mycenaean art. Although educated as classicist, his use of bright, vivid colors and the widespread use of symbolic objects in his paintings would set the trends for the entire period, and would have a profound influence on Viennese Art Noveau and the Secession movement ( founded in 1897), that was against the classicist establishment, which it found to be oppressive. In 1903, he visited Italy twice and was profoundly influenced by the golden mosaics of Ravenna. This marked the beginning of his "golden style." By 1910, Klimt had moved past his Golden Style, and in 1912, he changed the background from gold to blue.