Tucked away on the corner of 5th Avenue and 86th Street in NYC, the Neue, a gallery “devoted to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design,” is often overlooked.However, don’t be misled by its relatively small size; its exhibitions are worth the trip uptown. The current exhibition on Gustav Klimt, which ends August 27th, contains some of Klimt’s best works, including his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.
The works on display exemplify the sensuality for which Klimt is so well known. The drawings, paintings and sculptures in the collection are predominantly of upper class women and female nudes. In nearly every piece, Klimt’s use of composition, texture and the line gently emphasize the model’s curves and desirability. Sometimes, particularly in his nude drawings, Klimt seems to deliberately conceal part of his model’s body to heighten the sensuality by eliciting the viewer’s knowledge and imagination. Moreover, Klimt was one of the founders of the Vienna Secession—an art movement that began in 1897 as a counter force to the conservatism that prevailed at the time.
Just as Klimt’s renditions of the human body are a pleasure to the eye, so is the architecture of the Neue Galerie itself. Built in 1914 by Carrère & Hastings—the same architectural firm that designed the New York Public Library—and renovated by Anna Selldorf in advance of the museum’s opening in 2001, the Neue boasts a beautiful stone façade complemented by a stunning wood-paneled interior. Nowhere is the quaint, European Beaux-Arts atmosphere better displayed than in Café Sabarsky, the small Austrian restaurant located on the ground floor. (Café Fledermaus is located downstairs and, although featuring the same menu, lacks the atmosphere of Café Sabarsky.) Savor the delicious Austrian food and admire the large windows, marble fireplace and crystal chandelier. Don’t forget to order dessert! The Sachertorte—a classical Viennese cake of dark chocolate and apricot confiture—is a favorite, but you really can’t go wrong.
Note that the Neue Galerie is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and that Café Sabarsky is closed on Mondays, as well. For more information, visit the Neue Galerie online at www.neuegalerie.org.
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