Created in 1910, Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” depicts the allegory of death peering across a void of emptiness at life. In this painting, Klimt shows death as a conniving, devious grim reaper covered in a cloak made up of crosses. This skeletal figure wears a creepy grin and has eyes filled with malice. In his hands, he clutches a golden rod as he seems to reluctantly wait and watch over life.
Across the expanse stands a group of twisting, intertwining people of all different age groups. A baby, an elderly figure, a naked woman and a man coalesce to become one brightly colored, vibrant being. Instead of worrying about the grim reaper eagerly waiting for them, “life” appears unconcerned. One woman even smiles in happiness as she clutches a baby. Surrounding life are bold, pastel colored circles that unite them. As a representation of Klimt’s views of death and life, Klimt believed this to be his most prolific work that showed the never-ending cycle of life and death and how mankind cannot worry over the end. Painted at the end of his life, some critics speculate that Klimt created this piece as a way to depict moments of extreme pleasure and beauty prior to his ultimate demise.