Visiting Gustav Klimt and His 7 Muses at New York’s Neue Galerie

This weekend, it was all about Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim, Mel B at the Ambassador Theatre, August Kleinzahler at The Poets House, and Gustav Klimt & Emilie Flöge at the Neue Galerie in New York.



A line-up went around the corner of 1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street, as we waited in the cold for the security guards to let us in.

No water bottles are allowed inside, they kept repeating.

Inside, a majestic cast iron staircase greeted us, on top of which Klimt’s face was centred & surrounded by his square muses.

This way please, they gestured toward the ticket office. Coat check is on your way out, to the right, they said.

Upstairs, not sure which was more grand: Carrère & Hastings’ sky-high halls or Klimt’s square frames. Portrait of Adèle Bloch-Bauer I’s gold added to the richness of Roland S. Lauder’s rooms; stopped you from breathing, once; became decor, backdrop.

No pictures, please, they firmly repeated.

img_55041Shanghai-based artist and designer Han Feng’s fashion ensembles inspired by Emilie Flöge’s reform dresses, as well as paper hats by artist Brett McCormack, adorned full-scale mannequins. Josef Hoffmann’s chairs looked larger in person.

Downstairs, we ended the visit at the bookstore, a converted library; the kind you see in old James Bond films, houses of American businessmen. Not sure what to look at first: the dark crown moulding, wood panelled walls, or the richly decorated books on Austrian art.

The latest exhibit, Gustav Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, closes on January 16, 2017.

Here is a description from the Neue Galerie website:

Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900–1918

September 22, 2016-January 16, 2017

“This exhibition examines the Klimt’s sensual portraits of women as the embodiment of fin-de-siècle Vienna. The show is organized by Klimt scholar Dr. Tobias G. Natter, author of numerous publications about Gustav Klimt and the art of Vienna 1900, including the indispensable catalogue raisonnée of Klimt’s paintings, published in 2012. The Neue Galerie is the sole venue for the exhibition, which will be on view through January 16, 2017.

The exhibition includes approximately 12 paintings, 40 drawings, 40 works of decorative art, and vintage photographs of Klimt, drawn from public and private collections worldwide. Central to the exhibition will be the display of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912), which are shown side-by-side for the first time since 2006. Adele Bloch-Bauer was an important Klimt patron and notably, the only subject the artist ever painted twice in full length.

Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) was a central figure in the cultural life of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, and provided a crucial link between nineteenth-century Symbolism and the beginning of Modernism. Klimt’s iconic Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), on permanent display at the Neue Galerie, is accompanied by a significant group of preparatory drawings for the painting, which he created beginning in 1903. The show includes a unique historical reproduction (1951) of the mid-sixth century mosaic of Empress Theodora from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, which provided Klimt with an important point of inspiration for the first portrait of his patron Adele Bloch-Bauer.

A fully-illustrated catalogue, published by Prestel Verlag, accompanies the exhibition featuring contributions by leading scholars in the field, including Marian Bisanz-Prakken, Emily Braun, Carl Kraus, Jill Lloyd, Tobias G. Natter, Ernst Ploil, Elisabeth Schmuttermeier, Janis Staggs, Angela Völker, and Christian Witt-Dörring.”

Below are some photos from my trip:


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