Gold leaf has been used in the art world for thousands of years. Gold leaf is simply the process of hammering real gold into paper-thin sheets and then adhering it to the art with an oil, egg tempura or glue substance.
Gustav Klimt was one of the first artists to use gold leaf in a new and modern manner. Klimt was born near Vienna, Austria in 1862 and best known for his evocative and controversial work most often depicting the female figure. Early in his career much of his work was in murals and traditional architectural decorations. His later work was often unfavorably received due to the exotic representation of the female body and the new and unseen ways of his craftsmanship and technique.
Klimt’s most acclaimed work was during his “Golden Phase” where he created paintings using gold leaf and a perspective technique reminiscent of Byzantine mosaics. He is known as an advocator of Art Nouveau, a movement that Modernism built upon. Despite also being known as a “decorative painter” and a Symbolist, his art is some of the most modern and innovative work in the history of art.