Published: April 26, 2011
Neue Galerie New York presents “Birth of the Modern: Style and Identity in Vienna 1900,” which includes more than 150 paintings, sculpture, works on paper, fashion and decorative art objects.
On view through June 27, the exhibit includes the paintings “Hope II (Vision),” 1907‰8 by Gustav Klimt; “Laughing Self-Portrait,” 1908, by Richard Gerstl; and “Lotte Franzos,” 1909, by Oskar Kokoschka; as well as key decorative artworks by Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and Adolf Loos.
Jill Lloyd, an independent scholar and curator, and Christian Witt-Dörring, adjunct curator of decorative arts at the Neue Galerie, organized the exhibition. The Neue Galerie is its sole venue for this exhibition, which fills all the exhibition spaces of the museum.
“With this exhibition, and really our entire program at the Neue Galerie, we are bringing to life a time and a place of incredible richness,” said Ronald S. Lauder, president of the Neue Galerie. “Vienna 1900 †its intellectual strength, its sensuality, and its emotional directness †is at the core of who we are and what we do.”
At the end of the Nineteenth Century, traditional means of defining personal identity †namely, on the basis of gender, culture, religion and nationality †were fundamentally challenged.
The aim of this exhibition is to show a common thread running through the fine and decorative arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna: the evolution of the concept of modern individual identity. In painting, the decorative arts and music, this was borne out in a dialogue between surface ornamentation and inner structure and a search for a specifically modern, Viennese sense of self.
The exhibition, which draws both from the Neue Galerie’s permanent collection and from collections in the United States and Europe, fills both the second and third floors of the museum. The second floor is devoted to fine art from the period, examining themes of changing representations of women, psychological portraits of the modern man and the crossover among art, medicine and psychology in the paintings of artists such as Klimt, Gerstl, Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.
Examples of turn-of-the-century women’s fashion are also on view. The third floor begins with a room dedicated to the work of architect Otto Wagner, father of the modern movement in Vienna. One of the two remaining large galleries is dedicated to the groundbreaking innovations of the artists of the Vienna Secession. The other explores turn-of-the-century decorative artists’ two divergent paths to Modernism.
The fully illustrated catalog that accompanies this exhibition is published by Hirmer Verlag.
The Neue Galerie is at 1048 Fifth Avenue. For general information, 212-628-6200 or www.neuegalerie.org .
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