Gustav Klimt: Vienna's famous son

Gustav Klimt: Vienna's famous son
Born on July 14, 1862, Gustav Klimt was a key figure of Vienna's art scene during its heyday as a cultural and intellectual hub, bustling with people like Sigmund Freud, Adolf Loos, Egon Schiele and Otto Wagner.

Even long after his death in 1918, he made headlines when Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of his best-known works, was at the centre of a dispute over Nazis stolen art.

For this 150th anniversary, Vienna's museums have been falling over themselves trying to top each other, with even the respected Belvedere - home of The Kiss, featured in the Google doodle - organising a "Gustav Klimt and Emilie Floege lookalike contest" on the artist's birthday on Saturday.

Over the past century, Gustav Klimt has gained worldwide recognition even beyond the art world, something Vienna has been keen to exploit with ad campaigns borrowing heavily from his famous golden paintings like The Kiss.

His work shocked early-1900s Vienna and alternated between opulence and tormented figures.

But the 400 postcards and messages that Klimt sent his lifelong friend Emilie Floege - on display at the Leopold Museum - also show a whimsical, laid-back personality.

"I wanted to send you a funny card but first I have to get over the... enormous stupidity of mankind. Affectionately, Gustav," he wrote in one note.

Pictures of summer holidays show him eternally clad in a shapeless painter's smock, hair dishevelled and a mischievous smile on his lips while stroking a cat.

In his cards - he wrote to Emilie up to eight times a day, often inane observations - he described his breakfast or complained of a hangover or a bad cold.

The Belvedere launched Thursday a new Klimt app, along with a new exhibit, to help visitors enter the artist's world.

The use of apps, the first ever by an Austrian state museum, will "provide a new, continuous experience far beyond the visit to the museum and the exhibit," according to the Belvedere.

A touch of the finger brings up information about a given painting and a short video of the place he depicted or a key location related to it: from the Attersee lake where Klimt spent his summers to Venice's Basilica San Marco, whose byzantine style inspired his "Golden Period."

With his stamp now on apps, umbrellas, magnets and pens everywhere, "Klimt is, posthumously, one of Vienna's most effective advertising agencies," as Wien Museum director Kos puts it.

For more Google doodles, visit this page.

Best Google doodle of 2012

With inputs from AFP

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