Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter, one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement.  Whilst best known for his paintings of women and his use of gold, he did also produce some rather beautiful paintings of trees – in particular Fir, Birch and Beech trees.  His lesser-known persona was that of the Waldschrat – someone living a solitary life in the woods.  The majority of this work was produced from 1901-1904 when he created a collection of paintings to raise the profile of trees in nature.  Klimt woke up at 6am each morning to start his day among the trees.

The collection includes paintings in different woods and the aesthetic ranges from semi-abstract to more representational pieces.  A particular favourite of mine is Pine Forest II (1901) https://www.wikiart.org/en/gustav-klimt/pine-forest-ii which is abstract in aesthetic, but for me its success is down to the beautiful orange and green palette and the tiny glimpses of light which give the painting depth and a sense of what lies beyond.

Klimt produced a number of paintings of Beech Forests during his time at Lake Attersee.  In many of his paintings of trees he shortens the horizon, thus giving an increased sense of depth and density to the forest in the foreground and mid-ground.  This technique also allows the viewer to focus on the forest and the trees rather than what might lie beyond.  As with a number of these paintings, he uses short and light brushstrokes giving them detailed patterning and an impressionist feel, at the same time as providing a sense of the many natural elements that find themselves on the forest floor.  These details also allow us to dwell in the forest.

I have struggled to find high-quality links to Klimt’s tree paintings, with most of the sites selling low-price posters of his paintings.  The best site to give you a sense of his work is an article in the Daily Art Magazine https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/gustav-klimt-trees-paintings/.  However, I wanted to note Klimt’s work as being important and a potential inspiration as I continue my photographic collection Among Trees.

 

References 

Stanska, Z.  (2018).  Gustav Klimt and his Love for Trees in Paintings.  Daily Art Magazine.

https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/gustav-klimt-trees-paintings/.  [Accessed on 28 March 2021].

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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