Art Attack: Neue, Guggenheim AND MoMa

I started off my art filled day with a trip to the charming Neue Galerie, located along the Museum mile of 5th Aveue. Neue Galerie New York is a museum devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design, displayed on two exhibition floors. The building was completed in 1914 by Carrère & Hastings, also architects of the New York Public Library. It has been designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission and is generally considered to be one of the most distinguished buildings ever erected on Fifth Avenue

The collection of Neue Galerie New York covers a range of media, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts, and photographs created in Austria and Germany between 1890 and 1940. The second-floor galleries are dedicated to art from Vienna circa 1900, exploring the special relationship that existed then between the fine arts (of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl, and Alfred Kubin) and the decorative arts (created at the Wiener Werkstätte by such well-known figures as Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Dagobert Peche, and by such celebrated architects as Adolf Loos, Joseph Urban, and Otto Wagner).

Otto Dix - Self Portrait

Also on the second floor was where the Otto Dix Exhibition started. More than almost any other German painter, Otto Dix (1891-1969) and his works have profoundly influenced the popular notion of the Weimar Republic. His paintings were among the most graphic visual representatives of  that period, exposing with unsparing and wicked wit the instability and contradictions of the time. The show includes the work that Dix is best known for—paintings from the so-called “golden Weimar years”—but to contextualize them, it also includes Dix’s work from the early 1920s, as well as his later work, produced as veiled protest against the Third Reich

Metropolis (This painting depicts Germany after World War I.) Dix shows himself as a war cripple entering Berlin only to find that the country he has risked his life for has become a superficial, immoral pit of prostitutes and drunkards who won't even give coins to disabled soldiers.

The exhibition includes more than 100 masterpieces by Otto Dix, and addresses four themes. The first is Dix’s traumatic experiences as a soldier in World War I.

Etching from Der Krieg 1924 by Otto Dix

The second is portraiture, a genre at which the artist excelled. Dix liked to say he could define someone with a color. In “Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber” (1925), that color is red: her clinging gown, her hair, her nails, even one cocaine-rouged nostril. True to her color, she was a hard-living, fiery woman who flamed out before she turned 30.

The third is sexuality, a key theme in the Dix oeuvre. “Reclining Woman on Leopard Skin” is classic Otto Dix — fading glamour and kinky sensuality. Whilst the watercolour of the right is one of his many depictions of the prostitutes who were frequented by the soldiers.

‘Saint Christopher IV’ by Otto Dix

And finally, the fourth is religious and allegorical painting. Due to his depiction’s of the darker side of German society (violence, prostitution, depravity, and the forgotten disfigured veterans of the First World War) many of his paintings were burned by the Nazis, who also had him dismissed from a post as art teacher at the Dresden Academy. Along with all other practicing artists, Dix was forced to join the Nazi government’s Reich Chamber of Fine Arts , a subdivision of Goebbels’ Cultural Ministry. He had to promise to paint only inoffensive landscapes. He still painted an occasional allegorical painting that criticized Nazi ideals.

Portrait of a Young Girl (Erni) 1928

Of all Dix’s works, whilst i was most affected by his depictions of war, my favorites were his portraits. He had an incredible ability to capture the essence of a person and make them remarkably lifelike whilst still painting them in a semi satirical manner

After going through the entire Dix exhibition with notebook at the ready and taking my time, i went and saw part of the permanent collection. Whilst the gallery doesn’t have a HUGE collection, every piece is just spectacular and quality not quantity prevails

Vienna Town among Greenery (The Old City III) 1917 by Egon Schiele

The Black Feather Hat 1910 by Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt

Feeling the need to contemplate all i’d just seen and also, a pang of hunger; i waited in line to be seated inside the gorgeous Café Sabarsky. Café Sabarsky, which bears the name of Neue Galerie co-founder Serge Sabarsky, draws its inspiration from the great Viennese cafés that served as important centers of intellectual and artistic life at the turn of the century.

I had a DELICIOUS salad

followed by a decadent Apple Strudel which was polished off with the help of some very well prepared Vienese Coffee – its SO nice to find proper coffee – im still not adjusted to the “Americano” style, and honestly don’t think i ever will be!

Glad i had my umbrella with me, i made my way through the drizzle to the Solomon Guggenheim Gallery

The feature exhibition was “Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance” which examines myriad ways photographic imagery is incorporated into recent practice and in the process underscores the unique power of reproductive media while documenting a widespread contemporary obsession, both collective and individual, with accessing the past

i round my way up – popping into all of the side galleries with other, special displays along the way

such as “The Geometry of Kandinsky and Malevich“. Russian artists Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), considered two of the pioneers of abstraction, separately explored a geometric vocabulary during the course of their careers. Im not ussually one for picking favourites – but in this case it was the compositions of Kandinsky that stole my heart. The term “Composition” can imply a metaphor with music. Kandinsky was fascinated by music’s emotional power. Because music expresses itself through sound and time, it allows the listener a freedom of imagination, interpretation, and emotional response that is not based on the literal or the descriptive, but rather on the abstract quality that painting, still dependent on representing the visible world, could not provide. So he took up the challenge!

Composition 8 by Vasily Kandinsky

On view now from the Permanent collection were portions of the Thannhauser Collection —presenting masterpieces by such artists as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. Just amazing

Pablo Picasso, Le Moulin de la Galette, autumn 1900

I must admit – i greatly enjoyed the novelty factor of winding round and up and round up and then wee weee weee alllllll the way down – a fantastic layout – until i popped outside and ventured southwards

There was an amazing Sax performer outside of the Met

And strangely as always happens after i visit a gallery, i noticedthe quirky, artistic things

in ordinary scapes and thanks to ALWAYS having my camera with me,

i captured them to share with you!

Finally i arrived at MoMa to meet a friend, and though i was pretty ‘arted’ out i couldn’t pass up the Free Friday tickets! So we had a casual wander through – i will properly delve into it’s collections and particularly, view the blockbuster Matisse exhibition on a another visit. After having spent the day seeing the masters it was somehow even harder than usual to comprehend many of the bizarre and abstract modern works. Despite this i was still able to respect many of the thought and philosophies behind the pieces and enjoyed it nevertheless – even if we were joined by hundreds and hundreds of other people – New Yorkers LOVE a bargain and the word “FREE” attracts frightening amounts of people!

We escaped the crowd and with the temperature still somewhat cooler than it has been, we enjoyed a slight eveing breeze as we walked to Bryant Park. My friend and i picked up a toasted panini each at a nearby cafe and then sat out in the park (one of my favorite spots so far) beneath the purple sky that occassionally lit up with a strike of lightening! Eventually the wind became too strong and the rain drops too frequent so we called it a night and headed home. What a day!


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