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Gustav Klimt


In a swirling world of Art Nouveau and Expressionism, Gustav Klimt — with paintings like his iconic The Kiss — captured a simmering hedonism in Vienna in sumptuous portraits of bewitching women.

Complete Video Script

[91, Gustav Klimt, 1862–1918; Judith I, 1901, Klimt, Belvedere Palace, Vienna] In opulent Vienna, this simmering hedonism came out in the sumptuous paintings of Gustav Klimt. Klimt favored sensual women — who he depicted as alternately noble…bewitching…mysterious…and dangerous, like this biblical heroine with the head of her victim: a modern femme fatale.

[92, The Kiss, 1908, Klimt, Belvedere Palace, Vienna] Here, Klimt's woman is no longer dominant. Kneeling on a grassy precipice in a vast universe, the passionate couple is engulfed in colorful patterns and the golden glow of their desire. As the two patterned shapes flow together, the figures merge. The only thing that stands out clearly is the woman's face: eyes closed, cheeks flushed, as she succumbs to the pleasure…of The Kiss.