Mermaids 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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The captivating painting, Mermaids, illustrates a supernatural form the artist Gustav Klimt had explored as his worked received an array of criticism. The painting was created in 1899 as the artist explored the new form of art that would seize a place in his faculty painting, Jurisprudence.

The painting illustrates two alluring mermaids, covered by their lush head of hair. The artist had often used hair throughout his work to accentuate his model, using it to add structure and life to his work. The hair would either conceal the woman's body in a sexual context, of expose their features adding shape. Within the painting, Mermaids, the artist had used the element of hair to recreate a new body form for the piece.

The women are seized in an array of hair that begins at their scalp and flows a couple feet towards the bottom. The supernatural women use their long hair as their bodies, a similar form to a snake. The dark hair is covered in small white spots throughout the lush flow.

Their flowing hair, contours their cheeks creating sharp features throughout the face, covers the women's small faces. The woman on the left holds a dark presence to her face, as her skin holds a cool blue colour, opposed to the nude facial tone of the mermaid on the right. The faces of the women seize the attention of the viewer, as their dark expressions seem deceiving. Their complex body shape does not resemble a mermaid, yet more so a floating head with long hair.

The background of the painting is based on shades of green, where different light and dark elements to highlight the mermaids. The artist uses a sponge technique to illustrate the texture of the background. The setting of the portrait looks to be within a body of water, however the toxic green colour illustrates a dirty context behind the piece.

The mermaids hold a form of symbolism, using deathlike imagery to showcase a darker feel behind the painting. As the hair flows within the piece, it adds to the shape of the painting manipulating the traditional showcase of mermaids. Mermaids is a significant painting of Klimt's to analyze as it is one of the first moments where the artist paints a supernatural idea that had not been covered by his contemporaries. The pieces received an array of criticism as it frightened viewers, questioning the message behind the cold gloomy painting. The shades of green used throughout the piece accentuate the toxic message behind the deformed mermaids.