New York has always been known for its international flavor and background, but until only recently, Austrian and German culture was not at the forefront of this range, largely due to a complicated history that has taken half a century to resolve. Culture is inevitably wrapped up in its history, and Austrian and German culture are definitely no exceptions, given the events of the last century.
The founding of the Neue Galerie.
The reemergence of German and Austrian Expressionist art in New York.
Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”
However, Austrian and German modern art of the beginning of the 20st century has found a new place and home in the US, and the location could not be more appropriate: on the Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York, a formally German neighborhood. The Neue Galerie is a small but opulent institution founded in 2001 by two great enthusiasts for this period in art in the US, Ronald Lauder, renowned businessman and philanthropist, and the late Serge Sabarsky, art dealer and pioneer of German and Austrian Expressionist art in New York.
The Neue Galerie has built its reputation on its meticulous showcasing of this previously underrepresented genre of art, which culminated in the history-making acquisition of its prize possession, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt, which the museum proudly refers to as the “Mona Lisa” of its collection. Since then, issues of restitution and provenance of artworks have become an important part of the museum’s program.
Art and history can never be separated, and the Neue Galerie came into its own in the US based on this principle. Can a monetary value be placed on works of art whose history cannot be separated from their aesthetic worth? Has German and Austrian Expressionist art now come full circle in the US, due to the attention that the Neue Galerie New York has brought to it? Sitting in the flawlessly recreated Viennese-style café of the Neue Galerie, Café Sabarsky, CastYourArt discussed these and other questions with Scott Gutterman, deputy director of the Neue Galerie. (jn)