Gustav Klimt's birthday celebrated with Google doodle

The Austrian painter famed for his erotic gold leaf works gets his own doodle.

Head to the Google homepage today and you'll see a pretty painting in place of its usual logo. That can only mean one thing -- it's a new Google doodle.

This one celebrates the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt, the Austrian symbolist painter who was controversial in his day because of his celebration of sexuality. But -- as is the way with these things -- his work is now among the most expensive available today. How times change.

Born in 1862, in Baumgarten in Austria, Klimt was the son of a gold engraver, which had a huge influence on his work. He became known for the gold leaf which adorned his paintings.

Klimt studied at Vienna's School of Applied Art, and became leader of the Secession movement, which was a group of Viennese artists set on challenging the rigidity of traditional Austrian painting. Unsurprisingly, they proved controversial, and in 1903 Klimt was forced to remove Hope, a painting which depicted a naked pregnant woman. And this was years before Vanity Fair had Demi Moore on its cover.

His most famous work was The Kiss, which you can see up there in front of the Google logo.

Klimt was also a shrewd businessman, knocking out extensive and authorised reproductions of his own work. Around the same time another Austrian, Sigmund Freud, was exploring sexuality in his work, with his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

Klimt was a recluse, devoting his life to his work and avoiding other artists socially. While his work saw critical success following the controversy, it was nothing compared to the amounts it would fetch posthumously. In 2006, Klimt's 1907 portrait Adele Block-Bauer 1 sold for $135 million, becoming the most expensive painting ever, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy With a Pipe.

Klimt could also be called the first tweeter, with his short messages sent to his lovers.

Featured Video

This Nokia virtual-reality camera costs $60,000

Good VR doesn't come cheap, as evidenced by Nokia's Ozo 360-degree video camera. Meanwhile, Swatch's next smartwatch has mobile payments, and Blocks lets you build your own smartwatch.

by Bridget Carey