Gustav Klimt's work brilliantly negotiates the borders between the traditional and the modern, the figurative and non-figurative. His subtly erotic portraits, richly patterned landscapes and enigmatic allegorical compositions are at once sensuous and refined, while his extravagant, ornamental style verges on abstraction.
Obliged to go his own way when he was denied public commissions, Klimt became the leader of the modernists in Vienna, perhaps the greatest portraitist of his age, a landscape painter of dazzling originality and, above all, the creator of extraordinary decorative schemes. Frank Whitford examines the artist's work against the background of his time - the tragic final years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In the light shed by political and cultural history, Klimt's paintings and personality emerge with new clarity.
Frank Whitford was an art historian and critic, and one of Britain's leading experts on 20th-century German and Austrian art. During his varied career, he lectured on the history of art at University College London and Homerton College, Cambridge, wrote several books and served as a newspaper art critic. From 1983 onwards he was a senior member of Wolfson College, Cambridge.