Gustav Klimt, is known to be Vienna’s most renown artist of the twentieth century. His work manifested the era of Austrian beauty and splendor. The Exhibit “Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900-1918″ is now on display at the Neue Galerie in New York. Here, you will see one of Klimt’s most recognized pieces, “Adele Bloch Bauer I” which made headlines due to its role in one of the most notorious cases of Natzi art theft.
A little background History:
The book “Stolen Beauty” depicts the story of Adele Bloch Bauer, who grew up in Pre WWII Vienna. The book portrays the beauty of the Jewish heritage pre Holocaust, and the elegant life Austrian Jewry once lived. The famous Ringstrasse street in Vienna (where the story takes place) is known for it’s beautiful architecture and opulent homes, was the center of elegant society and Jewish grandeur.
Much of what you’ll see at the museum are artifacts that remain from this era of Jewish life in Vienna, such as pieces of silver and fine art.
You may be familiar with this painting as it was the subject of the movie “Woman in Gold” (with hunky star Ryan Reynolds) which discusses the exact details of how the painting was taken from it’s rightful Jewish owner during the war, and later put on display at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna.
The painting is rich in history and exemplifies an era of great difficulty for the Jews. It hung in their grand home until the war broke out when it was wrongfully taken by the Nazis and hung in their museum. When the rightful Jewish owners claimed it after the war, the nazis refused to return it . The question of ownership of the painting was brought before the United States Supreme Court In Republic of Austria v. Altmann. After a fierce battle it was returned to the descendants of its Jewish owners.
Up-close, the painting will literally STUN- you with its richness. Klimt used many Jewish subjects for his paintings. He painted using the richest materials such as real gold and silver leaf and his subjects often wore beautiful jewels further hinting at the level of splendor which Jews enjoyed in pre war Austria. This particular painting was commissioned by Jewish businessman, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, to portray his wife wearing a jeweled chocker he had gifted to her. Up close, you can see her initials “A” and “B” across her gown.
This Small but classic collection is just a small glimpse into the grand life of Austrian culture Jews lived not that long ago. You and your date can walk around to see the latest exhibit or head downstairs to the Cafe (which had a line out the door).