Gustav Klimt's ornate art expresses the apocalyptic atmosphere of Vienna's upper middle-class society around the turn of the 20th century - a society devoted to the cultivation of aesthetic awareness and the cult of pleasure. The ecstatic joy which Klimt (1862-1918) and his contemporaries found - or hoped to find - in beauty was constantly overshadowed by death. And death therefore plays an important role in Klimt's art.
Klimt's fame, however, rests on his reputation as one of the greatest erotic painters and graphic artists of his times. His drawings in particular, which have been widely admired for their artistic excellence, are dominated by the sensual portrayal of women.