The work of Egon Schiele is at the core of the Neue Galerie collection. With this exhibition, we are focusing on the artist’s extraordinary portraits. They are all the more remarkable for having been brought to life by Schiele when he was only in his teens and twenties. Born in 1890 into the provincial surroundings twenty-five miles outside of Vienna, Schiele entered Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts as a wunderkind at the age of sixteen. Portraiture was the key subject throughout his short career—it lasted only ten years—until his tragic death of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.
There is no better-suited or more deserving curator for our show than art historian Alessandra Comini. As a young student in 1960s Vienna, Comini discovered Schiele’s prison cell in Neulengbach (just outside the city), befriended the artist’s sisters, and wrote her doctoral thesis at Columbia University on Schiele’s portraits. I am most grateful for the warm friendship and wide-ranging knowledge that Professor Comini has generously shared with me over the years. With this exhibition, we celebrate her lifetime of scholarly achievements.
Our President, Ronald S. Lauder, has enjoyed a lifelong commit-ment to the art of Egon Schiele. He acquired his first Schiele drawing with his Bar Mitzvah money at age thirteen, and has been under the spell of this artist for almost six decades. Along with Ronald Lauder, it remains our ambition to share this artist’s genius with our audience, in hopes that it may continue to inspire the creative forces of the future.
Director, Neue Galerie New York