The work of the Austrian painter and illustrator Gustav Klimt, b. July 14, 1862, d. Feb. 6, 1918, founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession, embodies the high-keyed erotic, psychological, and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the-century Vienna's dazzling intellectual world.
He has been called the preeminent exponent of ART NOUVEAU. Klimt began (1883) as an artist-decorator in association with his brother and Franz Matsoh. In 1886-92, Klimt executed mural decorations for staircases at the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; these confirmed Klimt's eclecticism and broadened his range of historical references. Klimt was a cofounder and the first president of the Vienna Secession, a group of modernist architects and artists who organized their own exhibition society and gave rise to the SECESSION MOVEMENT, or the Viennese version of Art Nouveau. He was also a frequent contributor to Ver Sacrum, the group's journal.