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Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings from Bloch-Bauer Collection at Neue Galerie
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Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings from Bloch-Bauer Collection at Neue Galerie

- In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers

Neue Galerie New York
Museum for German and Austrian Art
www.neuegalerie.org
1048 Fifth Avenue
NYC, NY 10028
212.628.6200

Gustav Klimt
(Klimt Bio)
Five Paintings from the Collection of
Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 9, 2006


For this first experience, exploring Neue Galerie, New York, Museum for German and Austrian Art, I had been drawn to view five of Gustav Klimt’s paintings that had been in the collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer. These paintings had been owned by the successful businessman, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and his Viennese family. The Nazis took control of their entire estate in 1938, including paintings that had been commissioned by Ferdinand, two portraits of his adored wife, Adele, plus three landscapes. After World War II was over, the heirs of the family were unable to restore ownership of the paintings. However, more recently, a long court battle ensued with Maria Altmann, a niece of the Bloch-Bauers, and other heirs winning the rights to the stolen property. At this time, these five paintings are shown on temporary display in Los Angeles and New York. Neue Galerie has extended the exhibition to October 9, 2006.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, oil, silver, and gold on canvas, is an exquisite work, with Adele’s ingénue face and arms peeking through layers of golden geometrics and a collage-like layering of contrasting textures and designs. Klimt’s unique, repetitive shapes combine to outline Adele’s trim figure, as well as a larger still life figure in the background. There is an exotic motif, with numerous eyes, rectangles, circles, squares, swirls, and marbleizing. Yet, Adele’s porcelain skin and features radiate through the luscious luminosity.

Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912, oil on canvas, brings bold colors, flowers, horses, and a giant black hat to the large canvas. The colors here are mauve, violet, blue, green, pink, and Adele’s trim figure stands prominently before large geometric shapes, in a long, fascinating dress, against fanciful florals and a blue foot pond of, perhaps, water lilies. Adele was a prominent society lady, hosting a salon of artists, musicians, and intellectuals. Her expression here is strong and confident, compared to the earlier work, with a more youthful demeanor.

Birch Forest, 1903, oil on canvas, is set in autumn, with thickened forest floor and seemingly hundreds of birches, seen from lower eye level, not looking upwards. Here, just black/white/grey/green trunks and fallen dry leaves, plus some seedlings and green weeds, complete the natural, quiet painting. One can almost here the afternoon bird calls and scampering small animals, although none are visible. The orange, red, brown, yellow, white forest floor uses pointillism, with tiny dots overlapping and mingling. There is a photographic quality to the framing of the scene.

Apple Tree I, 1912, oil on canvas, again uses a pointillist device, and the museum notes mention an influence of Paul Signac’s new style. A thick bed of proud perennials adorn the foreground, all in reds, pinks, violet, and white, with dense green grass and an expansive apple tree, heavy with ripe, red fruit. The addition of white adds a sunny radiant effect, while the pointillist background creates depth and warmth. Klimt may have been influenced by Van Gogh, as well as a number of Impressionist painters, in addition to Signac.

Houses at Unterach on the Attersee, ca. 1916, oil on canvas, includes elements of water reflection, seen in Monet’s landscapes, and the bold, blue outlines on the rooftops and green growth evoke Cezanne’s bucolic works. The houses seem larger than reality, as the water would separate viewer from natural subject. Bold greens, red, blue, and white spring directly from the square canvas, and the shimmering reflections maintain interest throughout.

In addition to the Klimt exhibit, the second floor houses Austrian fine and decorative arts, including elegant, stark sterling and china, plus early twentieth century furniture and paintings and sculptures. The third floor houses German fine and decorative art, including renowned German Expressionist and Bauhaus paintings. The landmark mansion, housing Neue Galerie, was built in 1914. It is an extraordinary building, once occupied by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbuilt III. It was purchased in 1994 by Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky, for whom the two cafés on the premises are named.

In fact, I had a marvelous lunch of fresh herring on wheat bread and Viennese coffee with steamed milk. The menu includes elegant Viennese pastries. The Café Sabarsky, with a piano, courtesy of Bösendorfer New York, also serves as a cabaret venue most Thursday nights (See Neue Galerie Website for details). If you plan to see the newly re-acquired Klimt paintings, visit Neue Galerie very soon, as this exhibit runs only to October 9, 2006.



Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918)
Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907
Oil, silver, and gold on canvas
Neue Galerie New York
This acquisition made available in part through the generosity of the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer




Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918)
Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912
Oil on canvas
Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer




Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918)
Birch Forest, 1903
Oil on canvas
Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer




Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918)
Apple Tree I, ca. 1912
Oil on canvas
Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer




Gustav KLIMT (1862-1918)
Houses at Unterach on the Attersee, ca. 1916
Oil on canvas
Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer





For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net