The Economical Exploitation of Artists After Their Death Using the Example of Gustav Klimt

People usually have pictures in their head if they think of Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). The most famous oil paintings of Klimt are "The Kiss", "Tree of Life" or "Adele Bloch Bauer" to name a few. All Klimt paintings sold for millions in art auctions. But Klimt did not only leave his astonishing oilpainting art, in fact he left a whole industry if you look at the Amazon catalogue - Exhibitions, books, art prints, cups, Barbie dolls, mouse pads, cell phone covers, Jewelry, games, etc. - in total you find 1,398 products for Klimt on Amazon. Usually the succession of a death artists are the beneficiaries of an economical exploitation but since Klimt died before 1920, his painting motives are in public domain already.

During his live Klimt did not achieve the status of a very wealthy person as he would by now but he secured financially stability for his family. Klimt's father was an engraver and could only barely feed his family. A proof for this is also the death of Klimt´s youngest sister Anna, who died of weakness because they couldn't afford enough food. It was the primary school teacher of Klimt who convinced the parents that Klimt shall go to art school and also helped him to receive a scholarship for his studies. During his studies Klimt got hired painting work which was common for that time. In the end Klimt's education, his hired work and scholarship helped the family to survive in times of economical crises.

In 2012 the city of Vienna is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt. There will be several exhibitions in major museums in Vienna and the city is expecting thousands of tourists all over the world. In contrast to the grandiose celebration around Klimt people should keep in mind that several oil paintings of Klimt where seized by the Nazis during the second world war. Maria Altmann, one successor of the Klimt family, even needed to file a law suit against the city of Vienna in order to get back her paintings. Altmann successfully won her lawsuit but it took her till 2006 to achieve that success. Business is business but shouldn't we also keep in mind the intention of the artist who devoted all his life? Is a lawsuit with the shadows of the Nazis really necessary?

Gustav Klimt's primary subject of his paintings were the female body. Maybe all men in the world should start gifting a piece of art to women they are in love with, as a symbol of joy which was the primary intention of Gustav Klimt when he worked on his paintings.

If you want to get to know more about the life of Gustav Klimt, please visit the following links:

Gustav Klimt oilpainting art museum
Gustav Klimt oilpainting greeting cards

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