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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gustav Klimt

On July 14, 1862, Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, Austria. He is probably best known for the works of his "golden phase." The stylized, opulent paintings often incorporated gold leaf. (Klimt's father was a gold engraver, which probably accounts for his ease with using gold leaf, a difficult and delicate material.)

"The Kiss" is probably the most famous, and most reproduced, of Klimt's paintings.


"The "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" is perhaps the most written about and was the subject of a book by Anne Marie O'Connor, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer [759.36 OCO, also AB/CD 759.36 OCO]. Much of the "extraordinary tale" has to do with the legal actions taken against Austria for the return of the portrait, which was seized by the Nazis in World War II. Adele Bloch-Bauer's niece, Maria Altmann, won the suit and the painting was returned to her. It was then sold for a record $135 million. The portrait remains on permanent display at the Neue Galerie in New York.

A documentary, Adele's Wish [DVD 940.53 ADE], outlines the painting's history. The Woman in Gold [DVD WOM] is a fictionalized filmed version of the story starring Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann.

Maria Altmann's lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, has many YouTube videos posted if you'd like to learn more about Klimt's painting and its legal history.

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