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Famous Paintings: Gustav Klimt "Hope II"

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Famous Paintings -- Klimt Hope II painting
© Jessica Jeanne (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved)
"Whoever wants to know something about me -- as an artist, the only notable thing -- ought to look carefully at my pictures and try to see in them what I am and what I want to do." -- Klimt1

Gustav Klimt painted Hope II on canvas in 1907/8 using oil paints, gold, and platinum. It's 43.5x43.5" (110.5 x 110.5 cm) in size. The painting is part of the collection of the Musuem of Modern Art in New York.

Hope II is a beautiful example of Klimt's use of gold leaf in a paintings and his rich ornamental style. Look at the way he's painted the garment worn by the main figure, how it's an abstracted shape decorated with circles yet we still 'read' it as a cloak or dress. How at the bottom it melds into the three other faces.

In his illustrated biography of Klimt, art critic Frank Whitford says Klimt "applied real gold and silver leaf in order to heighten still further the impression that the painting is a precious object, not remotely a mirror in which nature can be glimpsed but a carefully wrought artefact." 2 It's a symbolism that's still valid today given that gold is still regarded as a valuable commodity.

Klimt lived in Vienna in Austria and drew his inspiration more from the East than the West, from "such sources as Byzantine art, Mycenean metalwork, Persian rugs and miniatures, the mosaics of the Ravenna churches, and Japanese screens." 3

See Also: Using Gold in a Painting Like Klimt

References:
1. Artists in Context: Gustav Klimt by Frank Whitford (Collins & Brown, London, 1993), back cover.
2. Ibid. p82.
3. MoMA Highlights (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2004), p. 54
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