Gustav Klimt is probably best known for his portraits of women. However, he also created many beautiful landscapes during his career.
Tannenwald or Fir Forest the first of several in a series. The artist also depicted other types of trees using contrasting styles over the course of his career.
From his holiday home in Litzlberg, Klimt went for wandering around the woods for days on end, searching for the right spot to create his forest paintings. Here, the trees appear in groups on either side of the canvas; the small clearing in the middle to allowing a feeling of depth, albeit reduced, which draws the eye into the painting. The trunks are stylised: narrow with a strict vertical rhythm, suggesting entrapment – no way out; the glimpse of sky a whisper to the outside world. The series is as a study of how light and time affect natural objects. Tannenwald II, also painted in 1901 features a similar scene, with Klimt choosing to offer greater detail on the fir trees, and without the glade seen in his earlier work. Both paintings were completed in 1901.
Tannenwald I and II were produced on square canvas, which is relatively rare for landscape painting but reflects how the artist was aiming to produce art which suited for exhibiting at that time.
Klimt’s landscapes express his wider concerns with biological growth and the cycle of life. Their dazzling decorative surfaces and abstracted motifs align him with emergent modernist tendencies. He later experimented with various styles for his landscape paintings, showcasing his diverse range of skill.
The foliage in The Park 1909–10 is flattened while the trunks, diminishing in size give a feeling of depth. His earlier Country Garden with Sunflowers recalls the symbiosis of naturalism and ornament, and at first glance could be mistaken for one of his portraits of women.
Klimt’s landscapes are now a highly admired aspect of his oeuvre. However, he remains best known for his paintings of women, especially The Kiss and his Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.