Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Favourite Portrait and A Pile of Old Rubbish

In my brief visit to NYC I visited five galleries but this was my favourite picture from the Neue-Gallerie on 86th Street. It is Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer. The story behind the acquistion of the picture is quite an epic.  It was seized by the Nazis after the Anschluss and after a protracted legal battle finally returned to the Bloch Bauer family a couple of years ago. It was acquired by the Neue-Gallerie and put on permanent display in their Austrian collection. Reproductions really do not do justice to this remarkable painting which is bursting with colour and texture. Absolutely amazing stuff and worth the hike uptown.
Nice and positive post so far, eh? Why be negative? Well, that's just me...The worst thing I saw in NYC was at the Whitney museum. Charles Ledray's "workworkworkwork" left me cold. When you walk into the gallery you are confronted by a bunch of old clothes lying on the floor. Shouldn't a major museum like the Whitney have a proper coat check? I was thinking to myself but of course this was Ledray's first piece. Apparently he makes displays and dioramas out of clothes, scattering them hither and thither and hanging them up from hooks and even stitching them together. The New York Times called Ledray's work "a magical retrospective that defies credibility," which makes me think that if they ever walked into a Salvation Army Shop their minds would be blown.