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Hilmar Udo Fister Gottesthal

Artist and sculptor Hilmar Udo Fister Gottesthal was born on Christmas Eve 1942 in Carinthia, Austria. He studied at the "University of Vienna" and the "Vienna Academy of Fine Arts" where he graduated in 1966 winning two art awards. He partially restored the Neo-Gothic Votive Church in Vienna before his interest in Byzantine art took him to Greece and Turkey where he spent 30 years painting and sculpting as well as capturing the ancient ruins, myths, and religious icons.

He arrived in Istanbul in 1966 having received an Austrian-Turkish Cultural Exchange Grant. His earliest One Man Shows were exhibitions at the Istanbul City Gallery, the State Museum for Painting and Sculpture, the American Robert College and American Cultural Institute. It was at that time that Nancy Hanks, later Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts discovered and invited Gottesthal in 1968 to his first American showing in Rockefeller Center, New York.

In 1972 he moved to Greece following an exhibition in Athens. It was here that he first developed his own Sepia made from squid and produced Black and White drawings which drew international attention. Meanwhile he lived in the fishing village of Stomion and later the mountain village of Karitsa. In 1978 he was an "Artist in Residence" for Berkeley School For The Arts for four months painting archaeological sites around Oaxaca, Mexico and in the provinces of Tabasco, Chiapas, and Yucatan. The resulting works were shown at the Governor’s Palace in Oaxaca.

Back in Greece Gottesthal continued to develop his own style, painting with oil and watercolors works which often contained spiritual elements using his complex pointillist and sometimes mosaic-like style. Among many unusual artistic activities he painted murals in the Bell Tower Chapel of a Greek Orthodox Church in Karitsa near Mount Olympus and restored two Byzantine chapels working with American art students in a summer internship program on Mount Kissavos.

In 1986 he moved back to Turkey where he was asked to record the nautical archaeological recovery and finds of the 11th century Byzantine shipwreck at Serce Harbor. These works are on permanent display along with the various artifacts at the Bodrum Nautical Archaeological Museum. The artist then conceived and executed an enormous Plane Tree sculpture measuring 22’ x 12’ x 8’ that was donated to the Hasanbaba Forestry Recreational Park, "To The Children of the World" to be used as a hands on climbing sculpture. During those same years he had exhibitions in London, Paris, and returned to the United States for exhibitions in Winnetka on the North Shore and at the Gruen Gallery in Chicago. He took these opportunities to tour the U.S. and did some watercolor paintings of the American Southwest.

In 1993 before leaving Europe to make his home in the USA he celebrated a 25 years retrospect in Ankara at the Turkish National Museum for Anatolian Civilizations and was awarded a medal for his cultural contribution to Turkey. In 1995 he started a Fine Arts Program with the International Summer Music Courses in St. Paul, Austria. In 1998 he accepted a special commission for another new artistic challenge, 26 Stained Glass windows for Priestfield Pastoral Center in West Virginia. The major component of the project was the production of 15 Stations of the Cross, two large circular windows and a 6’ x 6’ map of W. V. in Stained Glass. Since completing this project he has issued his first U.S. print and held exhibitions in London, England, St. Paul, Austria, Dorset, England and several locations in the U.S. In May 2003 he completed a 9’ by 12’ stained glass for a Cumberland Maryland church. Gottesthal now resides in Western Maryland on a mountain top across from his new woodland gallery called, "Sanctuary Studios" where you are invited to visit after he returns from June 2003 exhibition and teaching in Vienna, Austria. He’ll be honeymooning until August 1, 2003. Contact - email: or telephone to arrange a visit (301) 478-2735.


Museums with Permanent Collection of Sculpture or Painting(s)


Alberta Graphic Arts Collection, Vienna

Belvedere, Austrian National Collection, Vienna

City Council of Vienna

Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna


Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam

Great Britain

British Council for the Arts, London


Mural: Bell Tower Chapel for the Greek Orthodox Church of Karitsa


Museums of Ephesus, Antalya, and Side

Nautical Archaeology Museum, Bodrum

State Museum "Paintings & Sculptures", Istanbul

Private Collections

Nancy Hanks, former NEA Director

Robert D. Rothschild, France

Alex Dabcovitch, Istanbul, Turkey

Menelaos Andonopoulus, Greece

Robert Huber, Lugano, Switzerland

Siegfried Tagesen, Vienna, Austria

Louise Scott Ingersall, Chicago

Lieberman Collection, Chicago

Solo Exhibitions

St. Paul's Benedictine Monastery, Austria

Municipal Gallery, Vienna, Austria

Moon Wolf Gallery, Charleston, West Virginia

International Protestant Center, Vienna, Austria

Castle of Drauhofen, Austria (Farewell Exhibition)

Drian Galleries, London, England

Roman Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey

Panselinos, Thessaloniki, Greece

National Museum of Anatolian Civilization, Ankara, Turkey

Neos Morphees, Athens, Greece

Archaeological Museum, Crusaders Castle, Bodrum, Turkey

Ile St. Louis, Paris, France

State Galleries in Ankara and Atalya, Turkey

Governor's Palace, Oaxaca, Mexico

Gruen Gallery, Chicago, Illinois

Fine Arts Museum, Izmir, Turkey

Ephesus Cultural Festival, Turkey

Agapi, Blankenese, Hamburg, Germany

Roman Temple of Domitian and Hadrian, Ephesus, Turkey

Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland

2002 Spring Art Fair, London England

Alpha Art Gallery, Dorset, England

The Parlor Gallery, Towson, Maryland



Special Recognitions

Medal from Turkish Ministry of Culture "Commemoration of Artist's Work in Turkey"

Greek National TV: 35 minute film of Artist's Life in Karitsa, Greece

Vienna Academy of the Arts: "Fuegerpreis" and "Meisterschulepreis"

Austrian Cultural Exchange Grant



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