Art Nouveau when translated in French means New Art. It was an extraordinary movement in art history, that was most popular in the years of 1880 until 1910.
Art historians tend to interpret the Art Nouveau movement as a natural reaction to the Industrial Revolution. It was in contrast to the mass-produced goods made by machines that creating art in this new style required a high level of craftsmanship, naturally making it more exclusive and unaffordable for the average man.
The style is characterized by using organic, ornamental shapes and patterns and by integrating all aspects of art and design.
He was one of the founder of Vienna Secession and became its first president in 1897. The Secession had three main aims: provide to young artists with regular oppurtunities to exhibit their work, to bring best foreign artists to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine, Ver Sacrum.
Gustav Klimt's style is highly ornamental. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. His subjects are mostly women and his work of art were a scandal at his time because of the display of nudity and the subtle sexuality and eroticism.
The Art Nouveau movement favored organic lines and contours. Klimt's work is often distinguished by elegant gold or coloured decoration, spirals and swirls, and phallic shapes used to conceal the more erotic positions of the drawings upon which many of his paintings are based.
Pallas Athene (1898)
Later, the rich gold ornamentation was replaced by bright colour. Female faces, eyes closed in reverie, would be shrouded in dense and busy pattern that would often merge with the ornamented
background, such that only faces were visible. Klimt almost exclusively painted women.
Through the use of symbolism, his paintings explored the dualities of the creative and
destructive forces – birth, growth, death, decay and all of the states in between.
Death and Life (1911)
The Virgin (1912)
The Dancer ( 1916)
Reoccurance of elements of design in Klimt's work consist of organic form of shapes, oblique sets of directions, and the visual texture on most of his paintings is not rough nor is it glossy. It was discovered that Klimt would paint the women naked first and then layer on patters of clothing on them, so maybe that is why.
The principles of design that best seems to fit Klimt's style of work is repetition and without shape dominance. He uses variations of repetition so it creates interest in each shape he has on his paintings. You can't overlook his painting because there are so many details in it. Usually his focal point is mostly on the women's face but yet the busy patterns and phallic shapes grabs your attention as much as the focal point. He creates monotonous yet different ornamental shapes and patterns dominating but just surrounding the subject but not over powering in my opinion.