"Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration" opens at the Neue Galerie

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, best known for his Symbolist paintings, receives the retrospective treatment.


  • Photograph: Courtesy Neue Galerie

    Gustav Klimt, Pale Face from "Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration" at the Neue Galerie

  • Photograph: Courtesy Neue Galerie

    Transfer drawing for Jurisprudence from "Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration" at the Neue Galerie

  • Photograph: Courtesy Neue Galerie

    Photograph of Gustav Klimt from "Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration" at the Neue Galerie

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Café Sabarsky

Photograph: Courtesy Neue Galerie

Gustav Klimt, Pale Face from "Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration" at the Neue Galerie

Through August 27, 2012 • 1048 Fifth Ave at 86th St (212-628-6200, neuegalerie.org). Mon, Thu–Sun 11am–6pm. $20, seniors and students with ID $10. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult, children under 12 not admitted. First Friday of each month 6–8pm free.


The Neue Galerie celebrates Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, bringing together a broad range of the artist’s works. Peep drawings, paintings and sketches, along with photos that reveal a more personal side of Klimt’s life.


RECOMMENDED: Full summer museum exhibit guide


Highlights

Gustav Klimt didn’t write much about himself, but this exhibit’s selection of photographs by the Austrian artist fill in some of the blanks. “They offer a glimpse into Klimt’s personal life,” says Neue Galerie communications manager Rebecca Lewis. “[They allow us to see] a side of him that may surprise some, but when you think about it, makes perfect sense.” In one photo, Klimt appears buttoned-up and sedate as he walks the promenade at Lake Attersee, Austria, with a group that includes his companion, Emilie Flöge. But other candid shots, such as one of the artist outside his studio, depict a playful and vibrant man. A notorious womanizer who slept with many of his subjects, Klimt never married, choosing to live with his mother most of his life.

A study in black, cream and mauve, Klimt’s Pale Face (1903) frames the sharply exquisite features of a woman with raven hair. The subject wears a bulky hat and fur stole—very chic for the time. The long, undulating line connecting the woman’s hat and coat nods to Art Nouveau, while the light-and-dark tile pattern intruding on the background to the right of her head is a common motif of the artist during this period.  

Another piece that speaks to Klimt’s connection to Art Nouveau is the eerie chalk and pencil study for Transfer Drawing for Jurisprudence (1902–03). The completed painting—part of a triptych, along with Medicine and Philosophy, originally commissioned by the University of Vienna—was destroyed in a fire as the Nazis retreated from the city in 1945. With its provocative depiction of a condemned man before a trio of female nudes representing truth, justice and law,  Jurisprudence was deemed pornographic, and was thus rejected for the ceiling of the university’s great hall. But then, Klimt’s portrayal of women, often sexually explicit, pushed the boundaries of turn-of-the-20th-century tastes.


Also check out

Purchased for a headline-grabbing $135 million in 2006,Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) hangs prominently in the main gallery of the second floor. The imposing portrait of a wealthy Jewish industrialist’s wife has come to be known as the Neue’s equivalent of the Mona Lisa. Of the more than 40 drawings also on display in the anniversary exhibit, seven are studies for this masterpiece. “Notice how Klimt obscures her right hand in each of the drawings,” says Lewis. With her hands folded loosely to hide a deformed finger, Bloch-Bauer appears delicate yet empowered, seated upon her radiant throne.


Go here afterward

Café Sabarsky

  • Price band: 4/4

On the parlor floor of this Georgian-style townhouse-museum is the elegant Café Sabarsky, an old-world restaurant serving Viennese pastries, coffee and traditional cuisine. For Gustav Klimt’s yearlong 150th- birthday celebration, the café has revived the popular Klimttorte ($9)—hazelnut cake layered with rich chocolate creme and topped with gold leaf. You’ll feel like Austrian royalty savoring a slice while seated at the upholstered banquette beneath windows overlooking Fifth Avenue.

  1. Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Ave, (at 86th St), 10028-01
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