Neue Galerie New York
A Home for the Woman In Gold.
RIGHT ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF NEW YORK CITY ALONG THE FAMOUS MUSEUM MILE, LIES A GOLDEN JEWEL OF THE ART WORLD, A SMALL YET EXQUISITE MUSEUM AND A GIANT SYMBOL FOR THE JEWISH WORLD.
By DIna Szeinblum
Pictures courtesy of Neue Galerie New York
In the same spirit of innovation of the Expressionist movement of fin-de-siècle Vienna, Neue Galerie New York, namesake of the iconic art gallery in Vienna, founded in 1923, opened its doors for the first time in 2001. Housed in a landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, the museum is devoted to German and Austrian art, particularly to that of the early twentieth century. Once inside, visitors are magically transported as if back in time.
The collection and exhibitions showcase paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, works on paper, and all from leading Austrian figures of that era such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, and artists of the Wiener Werkstätte; and explores German movements such as the Brücke, the Blaue Reiter, Neue Sachlichkeit, and the Bauhaus.
The museum is the result of a long friendship—since 1967—between Serge Sabarsky, art dealer and museum exhibition organizer from Vienna, and Ronald S. Lauder, prominent businessman, art collector, political activist, philanthropist, and today leader of the World Jewish Congress Organization, among others.
[Top image: Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) Brooch acquired by Fritz Waerndorfer for Lili Waerndorfer,1904Execution: Wiener Werkstätte Neue Galerie New York ]
Image: Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) Adele Bloch-Bauer, 1907. Oil, silver, and gold on canvas.
While Mr. Lauder served as a US ambassador in Vienna, they would meet and dream of combining their collections to create a Museum that would celebrate Austrian and German art. The result of their collaboration led to the opening of the Neue Galerie New York museum after they purchased the building in 1994, where it stands today, and began to make the museum plans. However, the museum's actual opening was carried out alone by Mr. Lauder, in honor of his late friend who passed a few years before its inauguration.
The museum has enjoyed tremendous success, drawing worldwide interest and realizing Sabarsky's dream: a permanent home in the United States for German and Austrian art and design of the early twentieth century.
Sabarsky, a driving force behind the museum's creation, fled his native city of Vienna in 1938 after the Anschluss (Austrian annexation to nazi Germany) and emigrated to New York, where he opened his gallery specialized in Austrian and German Expressionist art.
Mr. Lauder's interest in Austrian and German art stemmed, in part, from his family's Austro-Hungarian background. Even his first purchase, as an art collector, was made in 1957, when, as a thirteen-year-old boy, he acquired an Egon Schiele drawing using funds that he received for his bar mitzvah.
AUSTRIAN MASTERWORKS FROM THE NEUE GALERIE
To mark the fifteenth anniversary of The Neue Galerie New York founding, the museum opened back in 2016 the exhibition “Austrian Masterworks from the Neue Galerie New York”.
The show in view again (now, virtually), highlights the museum’s extensive collection of Austrian art from 1890 to 1940, including major paintings and drawings by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfred Kubin, and Egon Schiele. It also features icons of modern design such as Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and objects made by the Wiener Werkstätte and designs by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Dagobert Peche.
The center gallery features an extraordinary selection of Klimt’s sensuous depictions of women, offering a unique and rare opportunity to see some of Klimt’s most important and beloved canvases. Paintings of Gertha Loew, Elisabeth Lederer, and Ria Munk are showcased, including the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907) , most known as The Woman In Gold.
Images : 1. Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 Oil, silver, and gold on canvas Neue Galerie New York. Acquired through the generosity of Ronald S. Lauder, the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer, and the Estée Lauder Fund. 2. Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) The Black Feathered Hat, 1910 Oil on canvas Private Collection
3. Helen Mirren and Ronald S. Lauder
A HOME FOR THE WOMAN IN GOLD
The painting Adele Bloch Bauer I (1907), acquired by the Neue Galerie, made its debut at the Museum in 2006 as part of “Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings from the Collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer.” The masterworks by Klimt were restituted to Maria Altmann and the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family by the Austrian government who, after WWII, kept the 5 paintings stolen from the Bloch-Bauer family by the Nazis in 1938.
Maria Altmann and US attorney E. Randol Schoenberg took the case to the United States Supreme Court and ultimately succeeded, after seven years, in having the works declared stolen property and returned to their rightful owners.
Referring to the Painting Mr. Lauder stated:
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition and a defining moment for the Neue Galerie,” said Ronald S. Lauder, adding, “With this dazzling painting, Klimt created one of his greatest works of art. We are overjoyed to be able to give Adele Bloch-Bauer a permanent home at the Neue Galerie. Her presence will enrich the museum immeasurably.”
During an emotive ceremony at the Galerie, after bringing the wonderful painting to the museum, Mr. Lauder, standing in front of "The Woman In Gold" portrait, presented the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Recognition Award, which honors outstanding individuals working on behalf of the Jewish people, to Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren for her stunning performance in the film "Woman in Gold", inspired by Maria Altmann’s story.
The WJC, which represents Jewish communities in 100 countries worldwide and Mr. Lauder had played a pivotal role in advocating for Holocaust-era restitution, leading efforts for the return of Nazi-looted art. On this occasion, he said: “Of how Adele Bloch-Bauer I and the four others artworks in the exhibition came to be returned to Maria Altmann and the Bloch-Bauer heirs is a tale of persistence.”
In 1994, Sabarsky and Lauder found the ideal building in which to house the museum: a Louis III-style, Beaux-Arts structure located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street in an area known as Museum Mile. The building was completed in 1914 by Carrere Hastings, also architects of the New York Public Library, and has been designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission and is generally considered to be one of the most distinguished buildings ever erected on Fifth Avenue.
The house, which was originally Commissioned by industrialist William Starr Miller, was later occupied by grande dame Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III and subsequently by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
A four-year renovation, carried out by the renowned Selldorf Architects, involved the restoring of the house to its original state while adapting it to the most stringent museum standards for the display and preservation of works of art. Occupying all six stories of 1048 Fifth Avenue, the ground floor houses the museum entrance, a book store, a design shop, and a cafe.
The cafe, owned by Michelin-star Austrian cuisine restaurateur Kurt Gutenbrunner, is inspired by the great Viennese cafes that served as important centers for intellectual and artistic life, furnished with original bentwood furniture from Vienna.
The second floor is devoted to Austrian art, in particular the work of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka and objects of the Wiener Werkstätte by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and Dagobert Peche, as well as furniture designed by the Viennese architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner.
The third floor presents early twentieth-century German art, representing the Blaue Reiter, with artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Emil Nolde the Brücke, with artists Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Hermann Max Pechstein, and Karl Schmidt-Rottlu the Bauhaus, with Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer the Neue Sachlichkeit with Otto Dix, George Grosz, Christian Schad and decorative arts from the Werkbund, including Peter Behrens, and the Bauhaus, including Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, Wilhelm Wagenfeld.
The third floor is also the site for temporary exhibitions. Together, the second and third floors comprise 4,300 square feet of exhibition space.
WIENER WERKSTÄTTE 1903-1932: THE LUXURY OF BEAUTY (PAST EXHIBITION)
Back In 2017, the museum presented a major retrospective devoted to the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), an artists’ and craftsmen’s collective that existed in Vienna from 1903 to 1932. Featuring more than 200 objects from public and private collections including pieces brought directly from Austria, special highlights iconic examples of furniture by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, complemented by rare and unique works crafted in silver, gold, and semiprecious stones that convey the Wiener Werkstätte’s luxurious aesthetic.
The exhibition covered all its members, such as Hoffmann, Moser, and Peche, as well as Gudrun Baudisch, Carl Otto Czeschka, Berthold Loffler, Arnold Nechansky, Michael Powolny, Felix Rix-Ueno, Max Snischek, Vally Wieselthier, Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill, and Ugo Zovetti. The show was co-curated by Christian Witt-Dorring and Janis Staggs, director of curatorial and manager of publications at the Neue Galerie. The show was conceived to convey the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art.”
[ Image: Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) Centerpiece, 1924 ]
MASTERWORKS FROM THE NEUE GALERIE CATALOGUE
A fully-illustrated catalog, published by Prestel Verlag, accompanies the exhibition, featuring a major overview of of the Neue Galerie’s holdings of fine art and design from Germany and Austria.