"I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word, especially if I have to say something about myself or my work. Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist, the only notable thing - ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do."
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of Vienna Art Nouveau movement.
Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, Austria. He was educated at the Vienna Kunstgewerbe Art School in the years 1879-1883. Klimt was also a honorary member of the universities of Munich and Vienna.
His major works include paintings, murals, sketches and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. At the personal request of John D. Rockefeller, Klimt designed the seal of the University of Chicago in 1907, despite having never visited the United States. One of the founding members of the so-called Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) and a periodical "Ver Sacrum". Klimt is known for his use of gold in paintings. This can be seen in Judith I (1901) and in The Kiss (1907), both visable at left.
Art historians have noted a highly eclectic range of influences contributing to Klimt's distinct style, including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations. Klimt was also inspired by engravings of Albrecht Dürer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese.
Klimt left the Sezession movement in 1908. He died in Vienna of pneumonia and was interred at the Hietzing Cemetery, Vienna.
On June 7, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that 88-year-old Maria Altmann, the niece of Klimt model Adele Bloch-Bauer, could sue Austria in a U.S. court for the return of six Klimt paintings stolen from her uncle by the occupying Nazis in 1938. Kept by Austria after the war, the paintings are currently displayed in Vienna's Belvedere Palace. The paintings include the celebrated Adele Bloch-Bauer I and have a market value estimated at more than US $150,000,000.
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