Recently Mr. M and I had the great pleasure of a private tour of the Neue Galerie's exhibition, "Vienna 1900: Style and Identity", led by museum director Renée Price and her spritely sidekick, a little dog named Milly. The exhibition explores the shift in attitudes, perceptions and emotions at the turn of the 20th century in Vienna. Social roles were quickly being redefined as the Viennese were starting to question social order and gender roles. Artists, writers, architects, musicians and designers were leading the charge in questioning the structure of everyday life, the role of the individual, and the confines of conventional thought. The region was questioning it's very identity while the façade of Viennese society could no longer be supported by the intellectual developments of it's people.
The examination of individual identity in the modern age brought forth great debates about style and content in Viennese art and design. Connections were being made between art, medicine and psychology in addition to examinations of the way women were represented. In these explorations, different genres of the arts were brought together in great frenzies of creation that produced some of the most influential works of art and craft in the world.
"Vienna 1900: Style And Identity" is a comprehensive exhibition that features these examinations, which are at times beautiful, tortured or amusing. Works are included by many of the greats... Gustav Klimt, Richard Gerstl, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos. One of Klimt's most famous works, Hope II (Vision), on loan from MoMA, is a great highlight.
Ronald S. Lauder, president of the Neue Galerie, views this as a defining exhibition for the museum. "With this exhibition, and really our entire program at the Neue Galerie, we are bringing to life a time and a place of incredible richness. Vienna 1900-its intellectual strength, its sensuality, and its emotional directness-is at the core of who we are and what we do."
Mr. M and I were blown away by the richness and intellectual gymnastics we encountered each time we entered a new room. The good news is that the exhibition, which was set to end June 27, has been extended to August 8. This is not to be missed. For more information, visit www.neuegalerie.org.