Iconic master of symbolic colour and vibrant patterns, Gustav Klimt created dramatic and highly ornate masterpieces that shaped the style and articulated the mood of Vienna in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Controversial in his time because of the sensuality and eroticism of his work which was then seen as deviant and dangerously carnal. Born in poverty in 1876, Klimt was recognised as a teenager for his artistic talents and, while receiving an arts education, carried out various commissions soon creating murals for notable institutions and museums and being supported by wealthy patrons. Being bright, ambitious and opportunistic he was the master of his own destiny and, recognising the opposition and outrage his work might attract, he was instrumental in founding the Vienna Secession, a modernist movement characterised by ornate line it focused on the beauty of 2 dimensionality of a painted surface. This is a startling characteristic of Klimt’s work making it Modern and hugely influential in style and contrasted sharply by his delicate, translucent descriptions of 3-dimensional flesh. His patterns are abstracted and magical, only existing on the flat surface of his canvas as his figures, tangible, tactile and living reveal incredible observation of the human body, it’s movement, its allure and textures. His creative and compelling approach to pattern meant that he also found work as an architect, and designer of furniture and costume, two areas in which his influence is hugely evident even today. Now recognised as one of the most influential figures of his time and was a prominent leader in a group with radical cultural, philosophical and intellectual ambitions that shaped and documented the society in which they lived and worked. Together this group formed a unique and lasting vision of art and life in the 20th Century and their creations impacted on every aspect of cultural life in Europe. Evident in its manifestation and the spectacular result of expressive poses and rhythmic patterns, Klimt based some of his work on music and on what musicians like Wagner, considered to be the perfect work of art. Creatives at the time viewed art as humanity’s only refuge from life’s’ trials- sickness, madness and death, particularly relevant in a climate in which war and syphilis were ever present realities and decadence was craved for and sought after but condemned and stigmatised. This romantic, seductive and concupiscent approach is what makes Klimt’s work unique and his ability to achieve loveliness without triviality is because of his superior, gestural figurative style and the weight of the ideas behind his compositions. His legacy and influence lives on in todays art and his ideas about the carnal aspects of humanity continue to hold a mirror up to society.