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During his lifetime he was already an expensive portrait painter, had won the most fantastic commissions for the magnificent buildings of the then new Vienna Ringstrasse and usually had several affairs with women on the go at the same time. He was a loving uncle, an attentive son, a father many times over and no woman ever complained that he treated her badly. Except perhaps the offended Alma Mahler.
His birthplace and his favourite "Tivoli" restaurant can no longer be seen today in Vienna because both were demolished. However his last studio in the noble district of Hietzing and many of his commissioned works, with which he once became famous, are still there. Klimt-Merchandising Products runs almost every souvenir shop and, whoever wants to, can still find KLIMT on every corner in Vienna today.
Through Hans Makart and the company of artists which he himself founded as a young man, Klimt already had very renowned clients at an early stage after his training at today's Museum of Applied Arts (MAK). If you go to the Burgtheater, the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Lainzer Tiergarten to see Empress Sisi's Hermes Villa – Klimt’s work can be seen everywhere.
Emperor Franz Joseph was not such a great modernist, but he held Gustav Klimt and his work in high esteem, unlike the later heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand, who despised Klimt. So Gustav started early with the biggest public client of the time: the Emperor.
Because Klimt's first works on the Ringstrasse had been so well received, he was also commissioned to decorate the assembly hall of the University of Vienna with faculty paintings. But in the meantime Klimt's style had changed and the matter became a huge scandal. Because someone like Klimt could not accept comments such as "Horrible! The result of a sick mind”! He paid back his advance payment and reclaimed the paintings. They were burned in a castle in the Austrian Weinviertel district during World War II.
Despite the lost faculty paintings and the restitution cases concerning famous Klimt's portraits of women, many of Klimt’s works can still be admired in Vienna's museums today. First and foremost: the famous "Kiss" in the Belvedere and the Beethoven Frieze in the Secession.
Gustav Klimt did not care much about what people "gossiped" about him. As a man, he also wore his beloved smocks, or rather the reform dresses designed by his friend Emilie Flöge; he was known for his directness and people gossiped a lot about his relationships with his "models". Anyone who was anyone in the upper middle classes had his wife portrayed by Klimt. And was prepared to pay for it.
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