50 Things@50-#22

Number 22-Visit The Neue Gallery In Manhattan

I knew when I made this list that a lot of them were going to be seasonal. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to a few of the outdoors one before the cold weather settled in so I will focus instead on the ones I can do now through the remainder of fall and winter.  As several of them are more locally based, I hope to make a real dent in the list. I was therefore happy to cross Number 22 off the list.

Sometime back, I saw a documentary series on Netflix about the ‘business’of stolen artwork, particularly by the Nazis in World War II. One episode featured the story of Gustav Klimt’s ‘Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Now I studied a bit of art history in college, and I enjoy going to art museums wherever I happen to find myself. There are an awful lot of artists, and even more great works of art out there, and I’m honestly not sure if I ever was aware of this painting before seeing the documentary. If I had seen it in an art book before I failed to notice its splendor. Once the camera panned in and out of view looking at the ornate details of the work I was mesmerized.

Klimt relied heavily on gold and silver leaf for the painting. Broad swaths of gold and smaller decorative motifs give it the feeling of a Byzantine work of art. As the documentary continued, I was surprised to find that it was actually housed in a museum in New York City. I made a mental note that one day I had to see it in person. So finally this past Sunday, I made my way up to Fifth Avenue and 86th Street (part of what is known as Museum Mile) to visit a new museum for me-The Neue Gallery.

Actually in terms of museums, the Neue Gallery is still quite young, having been established in 2001 and dedicated to twentieth century art from Germany and Austria. It sits within what was formerly the William Starr Miller House. As I get older I seem to find myself appreciating the smaller museums more and more. The big museums like the Metropolitan Museum Of Art have something for everyone of course, but I find myself overwhelmed and over saturated at times by the scale of it all. So smaller museums such as the Neue, dedicated to a specific type of art or era appeal to me now.

On Sunday I started meandering through the galleries. I remember going to the Louvre once and watching the mass procession to see the Mona Lisa ignoring everything else nearby. So I decided that I wanted to stumble upon Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer I organically. To turn a corner and realize it was in front of me. When I did it was more magical than I could have imagined. The gold was just so much more vibrant than the pages of a book or a TV show could possibly show. There was a seat directly behind the painting and I sat for a few moments scanning every detail of the work. Even when I got up and began exploring the other paintings in the gallery, I kept glancing at it. Almost as if it was saying-you can’t look away. It is I feel one of the special paintings in all of the art world.

So special in fact that its legend seems to be growing more by the year. There are books and other documentaries and last night I watched ‘Woman In Gold,’ a 2015 film with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds about the true story of Maria Altmann’s (Adele Bloch-Bauer’s niece) efforts to return ownership of it and several other Klimt paintings back to the Bloch-Bauer estate. Those efforts eventually led to the painting being purchased and now permanently housed in the Neue Gallery.

So I definitely recommend a visit to the Neue Gallery to see this little gem of a museum, but most of all to see the Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer. You will not regret it! https://www.neuegalerie.org/

Photo of Neue Gallery By Robert P. Doyle

Photo of Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer- Public Domain/Wikipedia

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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