NEUE GALERIE | OCTOBER 27, 2011 – APRIL 2, 2012
Masterpieces make for good celebrations, or so it would seem from The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century / Germany, Austria, and France, which honors the 10th anniversary of the Neue Galerie’s founding. I would not have felt slighted if the exhibition ended after the first gallery, wherein Gustav Klimt’s shimmering portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (1907) gazes dreamily across the room at Egon Schiele’s knuckly portrayal of a grinning Dr. Erwin Von Graff (1910). There is much more. In the next room five brushy oils by Cézanne radically enhance the innate austerity of the pre-Renaissance portraits with which they share wall space. Not an inch of space was put to waste in the second floor galleries, though a few pieces—all three of Sigmar Polke’s huge Ben-Day dot paintings and Gerhard Richter’s “Cityscape PL” (1970)—only come into focus at a distance difficult to access, because of the layout of the room. Portraits by Dix, Grosz, Beckmann, and Schlemmer embody the potential intensity of loaded weapons. In another gallery, one of Picasso’s finer Cubist accomplishments, “The Birdcage” (1923), hangs near Kandinsky’s large lyrical abstraction, “Composition V” (1911). Thankfully a bench is installed, so if one feels compelled to take a good long look there will be no complaints from the legs.