Gustav Klimt Drawings Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Sketches were the backbone of all of this artist's work, be it portraits or landscape scenes

Klimt's many portraits would predominantly capture women, often with minimal detail. Just a few strokes of the pencil could create an image in the viewer's mind - a skill which few artists possess. Only the likes of Picasso and Schiele could match this simplicity.

Gustav's chosen mediums for sketching would be black chalk, pencil and finally coloured pencils, with frequency in that order. Each of these gave different results, depending on what intentions he held for each work, and what he was depicting.

Klimt held a greater consistency with the types of paper that he would use for his drawing. In his career, he would only make one change - moving from adapted packaging paper, which was freely available, to a Japanese import which was lighter and stiffer. This premium product made him feel more comfortable using pencil, which he would then start to use more frequently than chalk.

His erotic nature - surrender to the material and at the same time its mastery - makes Klimt a prophet of female beauty. Thousands of drawings speak of how deeply he was immersed in this cult... The drawings establish his most incontestable claim to the title of mastership; their suppleness quivering with feeling is unparalleled in the whole of art today.

Hans Tietze, 1918 on Klimt's drawings

The art market is currently home to around 4000 of his pencil drawings, but it is believed that many more will appear, legitimately, in coming years. The produectivity of the artist and the geographical spread of his work makes this near inevitable.

This was an artist obsessed with working, drawing offering the most accessible form of creativity, in a similar way to the endless notepads of William Turner many years earlier.