Goldfish Gustav Klimt 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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Gustav Klimt's masterful painting, Goldfish, illustrates the artist's classic Art Nouveau style intertwined with elements of external influences.

The piece was conceived in 1902, upon Klimt's shock to the hostile reaction he received for his paintings: Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence.

The artist painted the painting in response to the mockery he received, and had originally titled the piece 'To My Detractors', yet remained the piece to Goldfish upon showcasing his work at the Secession exhibit. The painting received an immense amount of attention, as the sexual piece was seen as a threat.

Goldfish carries the similar theme and style to Klimt's work Medicine (1907) and Blood of Fish (1897). Both pieces illustrate the common theme of nude woman submerged within the water, flowing with the fish and weeds.

Medicine is an intercut array of detail showcased, exposing bare bodies mixed with the natural underworld. Where as Blood of Fish showcases a drawing of Klimt's, mixing the lively hair of the woman with the seaweed within the water.

The painting manifests four naked woman submerged under the water, swimming with the fish. An orange haired woman flows near the top right corner of the piece, starring directly at the viewer in her tangerine toned face. A single on of her breast is displayed, alongside the curves of her butt, as the rest of her body remains off canvas.

Her long orange flowing hair, meets the brown hair of another woman turned backwards swimming within the piece. The only facial characteristic showcased through the painting is a glimpse of her pointy nose. Beneath the woman, another glimpse of a open mouth of a ginger haired woman is seem, as her orange coloured hair flows beneath the water.

The focal point of the painting that brought an array of controversy is the red haired woman at the bottom of the painting. The model is turned backwards, showcasing her butt and glimpse of her breast, while her face illustrates a smirk.

The sexual allure of the woman is inviting, and resembles the stories of mermaids attempting to suicide sailors. Her long red hair flows throughout the peace in a gentle form through the currents. The woman's body resembles one of Klimt's classic sketches, The Female Nude Study, from 1901, where Klimt illustrates two sketches of a nude woman turned in the same position as the red haired muse in Goldfish.

As evident through the title, within the piece the face of a goldfish is shown swimming with the four women. The use of animals throughout Klimt's work remains a common theme. The gold fish swimming with the woman illustrates an allegory for the beautiful of nature, illustrating how humans and animals are together in a single form.

The gold fish is painted in a beautiful gold colour, most likely made up on Klimt's craftsmanship. The piece illustrates a prominent moment in Klimt's gold phase, as small strands of gold cover the background of the painting. The painting holds a few glimpse of dark purple and green colour, however is seized by the gold detailing throughout the piece.