Klimt, the leader of the Vienna Secession movement, was a master of symbolism. He embedded allusions to sexuality and the human psyche in the rich, lavishly decorated figures and patterns that populated his canvases, murals, and mosaics. Often, their messages—of pleasure, sexual liberation, and human suffering—were only thinly veiled. His more risqué pieces, depicting voluptuous nudes and piles of entwined bodies, scandalized the Viennese establishment.

Even so, the city’s elite adored his work and frequently commissioned him to paint their portraits. His artist peers were similarly enthralled with his style, recognizing Klimt’s ground-breaking injection of sexuality, atmosphere, and expression into figurative painting. When

including Egon Schiele lionized Klimt and latched onto him as their hero.

Today, Klimt’s work still captivates us. Museums sell more colour reproductions of Klimt’s paintings than those of any other artist.

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