In 1967, Ronald S. Lauder, an art collector and philanthropist, met Serge Sabarsky, an art dealer and exhibitor. Upon discovering a mutual love of modern German and Austrian art, they spoke of opening a museum to display the best examples of the style. Despite Sabarsky’s death in 1996, Lauder persisted on with their dream, eventually opening the Neue Galerie in honor of his friend and their passion for expressionism.
A current exhibit at the Neue Galerie is Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents of German and Russian Art, 1907-1917. Consisting of ninety painting, the collection represents German and Russian art in the early twentieth century. The paintings are organized into thematic groups consisting of: urban scenes, still-lifes, nudes, portraits, abstractions and landscapes. This arrangement comes with the intent to show how two art styles from faraway lands influenced and compare to each other. At the time the avant-garde wave, a style defined by the alteration of the status quo, became incredibly influential amongst the Russian art community. Around the same period, German expressionists, who sought to saturate their work with emotion, was also gaining popularity. Despite the distance between the two countries, participants in these movements were acutely aware of each other and drew inspiration and ideas from their counterparts. The exhibition cites the German groups Brücke and Blaue Reiter, as well as the Russian groups the Jack of Diamonds and the Donkey’s Tai as examples of this phenomenon. The Russian Modernism exhibit seeks to highlight how these two counterpart movements grew side by side and the exchange of influence and study between artists. Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents of German and Russian Art, 1907-1917 is available for viewing from May 14th through August 24th.
Another exhibit currently viewable is Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer: The Woman in Gold. Named after what is largely hailed as Klimt’s greatest piece, the exhibit is a study in the close relationship between Klimt and Adele. The painting’s viewing will occurring at the same time as the showing of the historical drama film, also named The Woman in Gold which tells the story of Maria Altman who successfully retrieves five Klimt painting seized by the Nazis during war time, one of which was the titular The Woman in Gold. Adele Bloch-Bauer holds the unique position of being the only person Gustav Klimt had ever painted twice; his first work of her being Portrait of Adele Bauer I, painted in 1907, also on display at the Neue Galerie. To further elaborate on the lives of Klimt and Adele, a series of lectures will be held, including by the curator of the painting, Jannis Stag, and the author of The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Anne-Marie O’Connor. Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer: The Woman in Gold will be available from April 2nd to September 7th.
An upcoming exhibition to look forward to is Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933, dedicated to the art in the pre-World War 2 Weimar Republic. The exhibition was put together by Dr. Olaf Peters, a professor of Art History at Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg who also curated the 2013 exhibit Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1933 as well as the 2010 exhibit ‘Otto Dix’, both of which were shown at Neue Galerie. The Berlin Metropolis exhibit will show the evolution of artwork during a turbulent time through massive population growth, political shifts, and upheavals in all forms of art. During the 1920s, American culture and influence saturated Berlin feeding new movements in music, literature, and gender conduct such as the concept of ‘Neue Frau’. The exhibit will provide a full summary of the transformative arc and will be available for viewing from October 1st to January 4th.
The Neue Galerie is the result of many people’s dedication to the history of modern art. Through the exhibits, they tell the story of how art reflects the values and emotions of the time. From personal stories such as that between Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer to cross country parallels, the Neue Galerie offers visitors a unique look into the past.
By Yi Zou