One of my favorite painters is Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Born in 1862 in Vienna, Klimt is considered the most famous representative of the Wiener Jugendstil and combined painting with many outstanding works of decorative art in Vienna, among them at the Burgtheater and the theater in Karlsbad. Best know is probably his painting ‘The Kiss’, followed by his portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer. What catches the eye is the rich and abundant use of gold leaf which form the background for Mrs Bloch Bauer in her turn of the century coiffure and utterly revealing evening gown. Vivid colors are made even more vibrant on a background of shimmering gold.
Imagine my pleasure when I happened, really just by walking along from the Guggenheim Museum, upon the Neue Galerie, located at 1048 Fifth Avenue New York. What first attracted my attention was the building itself, a work by architects Carrere & Hastings, commissioned by industrialist William Starr Miller, completed in 1914. It’s considered as one of the finest buildings on Fifth Avenue and the elegance of the structure makes you really stop in your tracks.
And then I discovered, that the building is actually a museum, dedicated to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design, prominently among them my favorite Gustav Klimt. The Neue Galerie was created by art dealer Serge Sabarsky and business man Ronald S. Lauder who purchased the building in 1996 to house the vast collection of paintings and other objects d’art by Egon Schile, Oskar Kokoschka and many more of the same period. Their aim was to exhibit the close connection between art and decoration with Gustav Klimt being a prime example.
Beautifully arranged on the three floors, reached by a sweeping stair case, a visit to the museum makes you forget that you are actually in New York. This feeling is enhanced by a visit to the downstairs Café Sabarsky, inspired by the finest Kaffeehaus Kultur of Vienna. Not only can you listen to a piano player sitting among potted palms, but you can also enjoy typically Viennese coffee in many varieties as well as cakes and Schlagober (whipped cream).
Rarely have I seen a museum shop which offers such an excellent collection of art books, as well as prints of the various works of art which you can admire in the original in the upper floors of the museum.
Opening times are from 9am to 6pm.
Photographs of the building and Café Sabarsky courtesy of www.neuegalerie.org. The website will also provide further information incl. special events such as exhibitions and concerts.