Gustav Klimt was born, lived, worked, and died in Vienna. So his name and works appear throughout the city, often in unexpected places.
This Klimt guide covers two sets of locations:
- The best places to see his paintings and other works of art
- Landmarks relevant to Klimt’s life, including his final studio, final residence, and final resting place.
All the places mentioned appear on the below map.
- See also: Schiele in Vienna
Where to see Klimt’s art
So, let us take a gentle journey through the museums and other buildings displaying examples of Klimt’s oeuvre, beginning with the big one…
(Upper Belvedere art gallery and home to The Kiss)
If you’re in Vienna and interested in Klimt, then the Upper Belvedere gallery should be your top priority. The permanent exhibition has his incomparable masterpiece, The Kiss, but also other famous paintings, such as Judith.
You may not be the only one interested in The Kiss, so go early or risk the crowds.
The numerous works on display include, for example, Death and Life. The Klimt area also has an authentic reproduction of his studio and a small room dedicated to the life and work of Klimt’s long-time friend and muse, Emilie Flöge.
(One side of the Albertina palais and art museum)
The Albertina museum owns more art than you can shake a paintbrush at but most of it lives in storage. Their Klimt collection covers a vast number of drawings, but you may only be able to see one or two items in the museum’s permanent exhibition. For example, I caught Klimt’s 1899 Water Nymphs (Silverfish) work on my last visit to these permanent displays.
Anything more depends on the Albertina’s current temporary exhibitions – you might be lucky.
The Wien Museum (i.e. Museum of Vienna) has the years around 1900 as one of its artistic focal points. This naturally includes Klimt, represented, for example, in his 1902 portrait of Emilie Flöge. Three of his other paintings on display when I visited were Love (1895), Portrait of an Unknown Woman (1894) and Pallas Athena (1898).
Unfortunately, the museum recently closed for major redevelopment and won’t reopen until 2022 at the earliest.
(Klimt worked on the decor inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The art history museum is better known for its Titians and Tintorettos. And you might wonder how a major star of Vienna modernism fits into the place. Hint: he doesn’t. But…
Franz Matsch, Gustav Klimt and Ernst Klimt were commissioned to contribute to the decorative paintings around the museum’s huge (and majestic) main staircase.
If you’re lucky, a temporary stairs or viewing scope lets you get up close to Klimt’s work.
The public commission that really established the careers of the Klimts and Matsch was a cycle of ceiling paintings for the Burgtheater.
You don’t have to watch a play to get inside the building and see the frescoes. Simply visit the two main decorative staircases as part of a guided tour.
(P.S. The painting showing a scene from the Globe theatre is the only known Klimt self-portrait.)
(The trademark golden dome of the Secession building)
The exhibition building of the famous Secession group of artists co-founded by Klimt continues to host contemporary art. More importantly, the lower floor provides a home for the huge Beethovenfries completed by Klimt for the 1902 Beethoven Exhibition.
Emperor Franz Joseph built this summer residence in the 1880s for Empress Elisabeth in the Lainzer Tiergarten woodland park. Klimt worked with his brother and Matsch on ceiling paintings you can view in the Empress’s bedroom and salon.
And, finally…if it’s not on the road for some exhibition or another, then Klimt’s 1899 remarkable Nuda Veritas (Naked Truth) painting lives in the Theatermuseum in its own small gallery.
Now let’s take a tour of those locations associated with Klimt’s life and loves…
Birth and death
(Klimt’s final residence)
Klimt was born at Linzer Strasse 247 in what is now Vienna’s 14th district. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the original house. His final residence was on Westbahnstraße 36 in the 7th district. There he suffered the stroke that was to prove his undoing (a plaque outside the building marks his stay).
(The old general hospital buildings)
After he fell ill, they took Klimt to the old general hospital on Alser Straße in the 9th district. He died there on February 6th, 1918. The hospital is now a collection of university buildings, bars and shops (and home to a Christmas market).
Klimt is buried in the Hietzinger cemetery in Vienna’s 13th district (Maxingstraße 15), adjoining the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace. His well-kept honorary grave carries the number 194/195 in the section marked as Group 5.
(For all the details and directions, see the article on Klimt’s grave.)
The Klimt Villa
(Klimt’s last studio)
The Klimt Villa proved to be the great artist’s final studio, which he used from 1911 to 1918. It’s now open to the public, with an authentic recreation of the furniture and decor as it once was. The garden even has plants that Klimt might have once tended.
Other Klimt landmarks
You can’t go into these locations, but each has some relevance to Klimt’s life.
- Stuckgasse 6: an early studio before the Company of Artists was founded in 1883
- Sandwirtgasse 8: the first joint studio with Ernst Klimt and Franz Matsch
- Josefstädter Straße 21: a joint garden studio with the same, which Klimt continued to use after the Company ended in 1892
- Florianigasse 54: an attic studio Klimt rented for completing the controversial Faculty Paintings that were allegedly destroyed by fire at the end of WWII
Residences and haunts
- Burggasse 47: his home prior to Westbahnstraße
- Neubaugasse 54: Klimt lived here during his childhood
- Casa Piccola, Mariahilfer Straße 1a: the fashion house co-run by Emilie Flöge (Klimt’s “life companion”) occupied the floor above the coffee house
The souvenir industry has discovered Klimt, so expect to find appropriate mementos all over the city. The Kiss has now transcended the glorious surroundings of Upper Belvedere Palace to appear on a million mugs and mouse pads. Poor Gustav.