Museum for German and Austrian Art Specializing in Fine and Decorative Arts of the Early Twentieth Century
Landmark Building at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street
NEW YORK (October 12, 2001)-On November 16, 2001, a new institution will take its place along New York's Museum Mile. Neue Galerie New York is a museum devoted to German and Austrian art, in particular the art created in Germany and Austria in the early part of the twentieth century. Among the featured artists will be such leading Austrian figures of that era as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, and artists of the Wiener Werkstätte.German movements such as the Brücke, the Blaue Reiter, Neue Sachlichkeit, and the Bauhaus will also be explored. The collection and exhibitions will extend to a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts. The inaugural exhibition, "New Worlds: German and Austrian Art, 1890-1940," will be on view from November 16, 2001, to February 18, 2002.
Neue Galerie New York was developed by two men who shared a close friendship for nearly thirty years: art dealer and museum exhibition organizer Serge Sabarsky and businessman, philanthropist, and art collector Ronald S. Lauder. They met in 1967, just before Sabarsky opened his first gallery.
Serge Sabarsky Gallery opened at 987 Madison Avenue in 1968, and almost immediately earned a reputation as New York's leading gallery for Austrian and German Expressionist art. Lauder was a frequent visitor and client. Both Sabarsky and Lauder enjoyed a passionate commitment to the art of this period, and they dreamed of someday opening a museum space to showcase the very best of this work.
In 1994, they found the ideal building in which to house the museum: a Louis XIII-style, Beaux-Arts structure located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street Sabarsky and Lauder purchased the building and made plans for a museum of German and Austrian art. When Sabarsky died in 1996, Lauder chose to carry on the task of creating Neue Galerie New York, as a tribute to his friend.
The name of the museum, Neue Galerie New York, indicates the twin allegiances of the institution: its embrace of both the city in which it is located and the Central European culture upon which its exhibitions and collections are based. Historically, the name Neue Galerie New York derives in part from the Neue Galerie in Vienna, founded in 1923, which was a vitally important showcase for the work of Klimt, Schiele, and other artists associated with the Secession movement. The word "neue," which means "new," referred in a general sense to the work these artists were creating, and to the novel approach to art and life that their work represented. It is in this same spirit of innovation that the term "Neue Galerie" is used for Neue Galerie New York.
The stated objective of Neue Galerie New York is to collect, preserve, research, and exhibit fine art and decorative arts of Germany and Austria from the first half of the twentieth century, and in particular to trace the emergence and development of Modernism in these and other related European cultures. The museum will show works from its own collection, from the Serge Sabarsky Collection, the Lauder family, and from other institutions and private collections through loans. Two special exhibitions per year will be shown at the museum, along with a rotating display of works from the permanent collection. Lectures, films, and other educational programs will accompany exhibitions. Neue Galerie New York is planning to cooperate with museums and other institutions for the realization of exhibitions and research projects.
The opening exhibition, "New Worlds: German and Austrian Art, 1890-1940," will feature selected works from the museum's collection, the Serge Sabarsky Collection, and the Lauder family. Featured artists will include Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Max Beckmann, Vasily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Paul Klee. Decorative arts from the Wiener Werkstätte and the Bauhaus will also be shown. The exhibition will be on view from November 16, 2001, to February 18, 2002.
The principal founder of Neue Galerie New York is Serge Sabarsky (1912-1996). Sabarsky, who was born in Vienna, worked originally as a stage set designer for Vienna's leading prewar cabaret, Simplicissimus, and as a clown for a circus troupe that traveled throughout Europe. Sabarsky emigrated to the United States in 1939 and later joined the U.S. Army, fighting during World War II in both France and Germany. He returned to New York in 1945 and found employment as a contractor. Gradually Sabarsky developed his interest in twentieth-century Austrian art. A turning point was his attending an exhibition of the work of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1965. His fascination with the material on display led him to become a major collector of these artists and to open his first gallery. The Serge Sabarsky Gallery at 987 Madison Avenue would remain his base of operations for nearly three decades, and would grow to be considered the country's premier gallery of German and Austrian Expressionist art.
Drawing on his background in design, Sabarsky made certain to control all visual aspects of the gallery operations; for instance, all communications were sent via hand-written envelopes that bore commemorative stamps. Furthermore, Sabarsky personally oversaw the framing of all works in the gallery, and established a highly personal form of visual display in which works were presented in a strikingly simple but elegant manner. In a sense, Sabarsky was continuing the traditions of the Viennese society that produced the art he cared about so deeply. He sought to develop a unified approach to the visual arts, in which art and its display were part of a larger effort to realize a total conception of beauty.
In 1978, Sabarsky began to dedicate himself to organizing large-scale international exhibitions of twentieth-century German and Austrian art. Portions of his collection were lent to museums throughout the world, and Sabarsky estimated that more than 10 million viewers in all had seen the masterworks he had collected. He maintained a great faith in the ability of art to cross borders and forge connections among people. In accordance with this belief, in 1992 he opened the Egon Schiele Center in the Czech Republic. Located in a sixteenth-century former brewery, the center serves as a site for the study of Schiele's work, an atelier for working contemporary artists, and a place for establishing ties between Central Europe and the rest of the world. The president of the Egon Schiele Center is Sabarsky's partner on the development of Neue Galerie New York, Ronald S. Lauder.
Ronald S. Lauder is the President of Neue Galerie New York. His first purchase as an art collector was in 1957, when, as a thirteen-year-old boy, he used money that had been given to him for his bar mitzvah to purchase an Egon Schiele drawing. Lauder's interest in Austrian and German art stemmed, in part, from his family's Austro-Hungarian background. Lauder served as the United States Ambassador to Austria from 1986 to 1987.
Upon the opening of the Serge Sabarsky Gallery in 1968, Lauder asked Sabarsky whether there were any collectors of Schiele and Klimt in America. Sabarsky answered that he knew of two. Lauder responded, "Now you have two more," meaning his brother, Leonard, and himself. Sabarsky replied, "1 already counted you."
Ronald S. Lauder is the Chairman of Estee Lauder International and Clinique Laboratories Incorporated; Chairman of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which is responsible for providing Jewish educations for young people in Eastern Europe; and Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of major Jewish organizations in the United States. Today, in addition to being a major collector of Austrian and German twentiethcentury art, he is also Chairman of the Board of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Renée Price is the Director of Neue Galerie New York. Price was born in Vienna and came to the United States in 1977. She attended Barnard College and Columbia University, from which she received an M.A. in Art History. In 1981 she joined the Serge Sabarsky Gallery, and in 1983 was named Director of the gallery.
Gerwald Sonnberger is the Director and Co-Founder, with Sabarsky, of an allied institution, the Egon Schiele Center in the Czech Republic. Sonnberger was born in Linz, where he attended the Kunstschule der Stadt Linz. Since 1990 he has been the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Passau. Sonnberger organized numerous museum exhibitions with Sabarsky in Austria, Germany, and France. Price and Sonnberger worked closely with Sabarsky in the creation of Neue Galerie New York.
Scott Gutterman is the Deputy Director of Neue Galerie New York. He previously served as Director of Public Affairs for the Guggenheim Museum and as Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Morgan Library.
The building housing Neue Galerie New York is located at 1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street, in an area known as Museum Mile. The building was completed in 1914 by Carrere & 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. Commissioned by industrialist William Starr Miller, it was later occupied by society doyenne Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III and subsequently by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It was purchased by Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky in 1994.
Annabelle Selldorf is the architect for the renovation of the building. Selldorf was born in Cologne and founded Selldorf Architects in New York in 1989. Her art-related projects include the designs for Michael Werner Gallery, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, and Zwirner & Wirth in New York; and the renovation of a Gothic palazzo, the Fondazione Ortamila, in Venice. Her work for Neue Galerie New York has involved restoring 1048 Fifth Avenue to its original state, while adapting it to the most stringent museum standards with regard to the display and preservation of works of art.
Neue Galerie New York will occupy all six stories of 1048 Fifth Avenue. The ground floor will house the museum entrance, a book store, a design shop, and a cafe. The Neue Galerie Book Store will be unique in the United States, specializing in fine art, architecture, decorative arts and literature from Germany, Austria, and related Central European cultures.
The museum's Design Shop will offer objects based on original designs by Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, Marianne Brandt, and others. These will include jewelry, tableware, and other items rendered in fine materials such as silver, glass, porcelain, and leather. The cafe will be known as Café Sabarsky and will draw its inspiration from the great Viennese cafes that served as important centers of intellectual and artistic life. It will be furnished with bent wood furniture, and will serve authentic Viennese specialties, as well as the special coffees for which Vienna is known. The operator of Café Sabarsky will be Kurt Gutenbrunner, owner and chef of the restaurant Wallsé.
The second floor will be devoted to Austrian art, in particular the work of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka. In addition, it will feature objects of the Wiener Werkstätte by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, and Dagobert Peche, as weil as furniture designed by the Viennese architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner. The third floor will present early twentieth-century German art, representing the Blaue Reiter and its circle (Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, August Macke, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter, Emil Nolde), the Brücke (Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Hermann Pechstein, Karl Schmidt Rottluff), the Bauhaus (Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Schlemmer), Neue Sachlichkeit (Otto Dix, George Grosz, Christian Schad), and decorative arts from the Werkbund (Peter Behrens) and the Bauhaus (Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, Wilhelm Wagenfeld). The third floor will also be the site of temporary exhibitions. Together, the second and third floors comprise 4,300 square feet of exhibition space.
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