Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918) are two of the greatest artists Austria produced in the early twentieth century. Although born nearly thirty years apart, both tragically died in 1918—the same year that the Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist following its defeat in World War I. Over the intervening century, the works of Klimt and Schiele have come to define the fertile creativity that marked the so-called “joyous apocalypse,” an apt term used to connote the waning days of Habsburg rule. This show pays tribute to the groundbreaking achievements of Klimt and Schiele, two masterful artists who are key figures in the collection of the Neue Galerie New York.
Born in 1862, Austrian painter Gustav Klimt became known for the highly decorative style and erotic nature of his works, which were seen as a rebellion against the traditional academic art of his time. His most famous paintings are The Kiss and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.
Egon Schiele (German:12 June 1890 – 31 October 1918) was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including naked self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.
VIENNA SECESSION MOVEMENT
The formation of the Vienna Secession in 1897 marked, quite accurately, the formal beginning of modern art in Austria – a nation at the time noted for its attachment to a highly conservative tradition. It was the coalescence of the first movement of artists and designers who were committed to a forward-thinking, internationalist view of the art world, all-encompassing in its embrace and integration of genres and fields, and – highly idealistically – freed from the dictates of entrenched values or prevailing commercial tastes. Led at the beginning by Gustav Klimt, the Secessionists gave contemporary art its first dedicated venue in the city. This, in concert with their official journal Ver Sacrum, not only introduced the Austrian capital to their work, but that of contemporary and historical art movements on a global scale.
The Secessionists’ work provides in large part the visual representations of the new intellectual and cultural flowering of Vienna around 1900, in fields as diverse as medicine, music, and philosophy. Before long, however, internal divisions and difficulties arising from the commercial side of the Secessionists’ work ultimately fractured the group’s monopoly on the scene for contemporary and decorative arts. Nonetheless, even today the Secession remains a key forum in Austria for the promotion and discourse surrounding contemporary art.
ABOUT NEUE GALERIE NEW YORK
Neue Galerie New York is a museum devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design, displayed on two exhibition floors. The collection features art from Vienna circa 1900, exploring the special relationship that existed between the fine arts (of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl, and Alfred Kubin) and the decorative arts (created at the Wiener Werkstätte by such well-known figures as Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Dagobert Peche, and by such celebrated architects as Adolf Loos, Joseph Urban, and Otto Wagner).
The German art collection represents various movements of the early twentieth century: the Blaue Reiter and its circle (Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter); the Brücke (Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Hermann Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff); the Bauhaus (Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer); the Neue Sachlichkeit (Otto Dix, George Grosz, Christian Schad); as well as applied arts from the German Werkbund (Peter Behrens) and the Bauhaus (Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Wilhelm Wagenfeld).
Neue Galerie New York was conceived by two men who enjoyed a close friendship over a period of nearly thirty years: art dealer and museum exhibition organizer Serge Sabarsky and businessman, philanthropist, and art collector Ronald S. Lauder. Sabarsky and Lauder shared a passionate commitment to Modern German and Austrian art, and dreamed of opening a museum to showcase the finest examples of this work. After Sabarsky died in 1996, Lauder carried on the vision of creating Neue Galerie New York as a tribute to his friend.