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Gustav Klimt's work "The Kiss" featured in Google doodle

July 14, 2012|By Laura J. Nelson
  • A screengrab shows Google's latest Doodle, which celebrates the 150th birthday of "Kiss" artist Gustav Klimt.
A screengrab shows Google's latest Doodle, which celebrates the… (Los Angeles Times )

Google gave a gilded nod to the 150th birthday of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt on Saturday with a Google doodle interpreting one of the symbolist painter’s most famous works.

The original version of “The Kiss,” depicts a couple mid-embrace and was inspired by the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Some of Klimt’s best-known work was gilded, completed during his “Golden Phase.”

The painter was a prominent member of the Vienna Secession, a group of artists who left the Assn. of Austrian Artists in the late 1890s to explore forms of artistic expression.

His work still appears on prints, shirts, jewelry and other products.

According to Google, Saturday also marks the 12th anniversary of the company creating an official chief doodler -- then-intern Dennis Hwang, who created a doodle in observation of Bastille Day. A team of artists has now created more than 1,000 doodles, which typically blend the company’s logo with an image or interactive representation of an important person or day in history.

Since Klimt’s death in 1918, some of his paintings have been at the center of controversy; others have sold for record-breaking prices.

“Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” a gold-flecked representation of a sugar industrialist’s wife, was on display at an Austrian gallery for 60 years before becoming entangled in a legal struggle between the Austrian government and the portrait subject’s niece in the mid-2000s, the New York Times reported.

The niece argued that the portrait had been stolen by the Nazis and rightfully belonged to the Bloch-Bauer family. A judge awarded the portrait and four other paintings to her, and she later put it up for sale.

A representative for New York’s Neue Gallery, which specializes in Austrian and German art, bought “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” in 2006 for $135 million --  then the higest price ever paid for a painting.

“This is our Mona Lisa,” cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder, who bought the painting, told the New York Times at the time of the sale. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition.”

That record-breaking price was eclipsed six months later by Jackson Pollock’s “No 5, 1948,” which sold for $140 million -- and again in 2011, by Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players,” which sold to the royal family of Qatar for more than $250 million.

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laura.nelson@latimes.com

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