I spent a year living in Vienna, and have been to visit countless times, so it’s no surprise that I would seek out New York’s Neue Galerie museum for a little taste (both artistic & culinary) of Mitteleuropa in the Big Apple.
This Upper East Side museum, with its collection of Austrian and German art, is well worth a visit when you’re in New York.
The museum has pride of place along the famed “Museum Mile” (a one mile stretch of 5th Avenue that contains many spectacular museums to visit during your stay), specifically on 5th Avenue and 86th Street.
The collection includes many well known “Viennese” artists, most famously Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.
It also features famous artists of The German Blue Rider school and Bauhaus. Works by Kandinsky, Klee, Kirchner and Dix are also housed here.
But perhaps the most famous work of art is one I originally saw in Vienna in the 1980s and 1990s, at its spectacular Belvedere Museum. This is the stunning Klimt painting, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Alongside The Kiss, its is perhaps one of Klimt’s most recognizable works from his Golden phase.
This stunning portrait was commissioned by the sitter’s husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy Jewish banker and sugar producer. It was stolen by the Nazis during World War II after Bloch-Bauer fled to America after the Anschluss, and was later given to the Viennese museum.
The artwork was recuperated by Bloch-Bauer’s heir, in a high profile legal challenge in 1998. It was then sold, at a stunning figure of $135 million dollars to one of the Neue Galerie’s founders, where it now enjoys pride of place. The film Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren, provides a good background of the case I followed in the news.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite in the museum, there’s no reason to leave right away.
For those (like me) with a sweet tooth and a longing for the Central European café culture, you’ll definitely want to carve out some time on your visit to visit the Café Sabarsky, on the ground floor of the museum.
So on your next visit, enjoy your short sojourn into elegant Vienna, right in the heart of chaotic Manhattan.