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Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862-February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and a formative figure of international Modernism that emerged at the turn of the century. Klimt was also one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession, a group that worked to support young, emerging, unconventional artists while claiming no single artistic manifesto or style. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Though he received public commissions in his early years in Vienna, Klimt's work was met with criticism and rejection. Perceived as pornographic and radical, Klimt's treatment of the female body as his primary subject matter was at times openly erotic, but is now considered masterful. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Klimt entered what is known as his Golden Phase, which was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period (which derived its name from the prominent use of gold leaf in his paintings) are considered beacons of the Art Nouveau period.
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The Austrian Symbolist Gustav Klimt's "Golden Period" has long been accepted as his artistic highpoint, and his 1907-1908 painting The Kiss is the crowning jewel. A stunning exemplar of art nouveau patterns and forms, The Kiss has been called the most important modern painting by some scholars of twentieth-century art. Depicting a couple embracing in a sublime, gold-flecked background, Klimt combines modern techniques with traditional iconography while maintaining an instantly recognizable singularity. Now displaying at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, The Kiss, unlike many of Klimt's earlier works, gained immediate attention and positive critical response. Klimt's combination of oil paints and a great amount of gold leaf have become known as his signature style, and make the painting a lively, engaging piece to encounter.