Forbes and Fifth

From Orchard to Adele

Gustav Klimt, the internationally renowned fin-de-siècle Viennese painter, has had an interesting relationship with the United States. Since its U.S. debut, Klimt’s work has been received as somewhere between purely decorative and highly sophisticated, two differing poles of opinion that make it hard to discern where American art critics place Klimt on the spectrum of artistic value. Over time, Klimt’s entire oeuvre has gained significant appreciation from American critics, but certain attitudes persist. Indeed, recent criticism of his work suggests that Klimt has still not really won the hearts of American critics as a serious painter. One such comment comes from New York Times journalist Michael Kimmelman in his description of Klimt’s golden masterpiece of a Viennese socialite of a bygone era, The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Plate 2) from 1907. The work now hangs in the Neue Galerie in New York City as a centerpiece of the Galerie’s collection of German and Austrian art. The author describes Adele Bloch-Bauer as “half queen, half Las Vegas showgirl. The perfect New Yorker.”1 Kimmelman’s comparison of a Viennese socialite to a Las Vegas showgirl makes it clear that Klimt’s use of ornament is still being regarded as excessive, and perhaps even tacky, given the nature of the comparison. Regardless of whether everyone loves Klimt’s unique style, the artist has nonetheless made his mark in the United States, and this paper serves as a thorough examination of the history of Klimt’s presence in America beginning with his first exhibitions in the 1950s up until the $135 million dollar sale of the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer to Ronald S. Lauder of the Neue Galerie in 2006. Over time and accompanied by a remarkable story, Klimt has become a fixture in American art history.

Gustav Klimt, the founding father of the Vienna Secession, was active in Austria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by his contemporary Sigmund Freud’s studies in psychoanalysis, Klimt’s highly ornamental canvases explored deep into the realm of the subconscious and the erotic. His sexualized nudes portrayed amidst busy, colorful, and abstracted backdrops were highly contested and often rejected during his lifetime. Only recently have art historians made an effort to decode the hidden messages that lie within Klimt’s ornamentation. Kirk Varnedoe, curator of Vienna 1900 at the Museum of Modern Art wrote in 1986: “This [Klimt’s] kind of confusion and ornamental richness does not embellish the content of Klimt’s art, it is the content. […] It evoked the privileged state of a dreamlike floating in which fantasy liquefies the world, tinting and bending it to its own desires.”2 The modern perspective on Klimt’s work is much in line with Varnedoe’s quote, for in recent art historical dialogue, Klimt’s name is often synonymous with words like subconscious and dream-like. This psychoanalytical dimension to Klimt’s work has not always been recognized, and American critics have struggled for years over what to make of Klimt’s work. The following serves as a timeline of Klimt’s reception in the United States, featuring critical commentary and key moments that have allowed Klimt, over a period of more than fifty years, to gain a large presence in America.

There was no significant mention of Klimt’s work in the States until after 1950. The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair in Missouri was to feature Klimt and a few other Austrian artists, but too few Austrians signed up, leaving Austria unrepresented at the Fair. Following that, some attempts were made to sell Klimt’s work in America, but these attempts failed because there were no interested buyers. In a 1924 letter to Chicago designer and Klimt advocate Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill, the Wiener Werkstätte financial backer Fritz Waerndorfer adamantly wrote: “Undertake NOTHING regarding the sale of paintings by Klimt in Chicago. You will have endless trouble and inconvenience, and you will sell NO Klimts in Chicago […].”3 Waerndorfer’s words made it abundantly clear that there was no market for Klimt in the States at the time. In the 1930s, two important art dealers by the names of Serge Sabarsky and Otto Kallir immigrated to America from Austria and began to collect and sell Klimt paintings. The former, Otto Kallir, opened the Galerie St. Etienne in 1939 in midtown Manhattan, a gallery created solely to feature and sell works by Austrian and German artists. Klimt’s first shows in the United States took place at the Galerie St. Etienne, and within the criticism from these initial shows, we can begin to understand some of the problems that American critics had in dealing with Klimt’s work.

Klimt’s first small presence in an American gallery happened at the 1940 display entitled Saved from Europe at the Galerie St. Etienne. The show featured three landscapes by Klimt, all of which were included in his subsequent solo exhibition at Etienne a few years later. His first solo show entitled Gustav Klimt in 1959 was the gallery’s first attempt to display the artist’s total output. It included landscapes, portraits, and drawings. Alfred Werner wrote: “For a thousand Americans who have read Freud and listened to Mahler’s music, there is perhaps one who has heard of Klimt.”4 Werner thus made clear his belief that Klimt’s name deserved to be better recognized among the other Viennese fin-de-siècle greats. Featuring eight landscapes and seven portraits, the show lacked only Klimt’s golden paintings, such as The Kiss (1908-1909) and Pallas Athene (1898), and was received with many differing opinions.5

Many critics felt that the landscapes were the most successful of Klimt’s works, and Art News insisted, “Klimt’s best paintings are his landscapes.”6 Other critics followed suit, and many of Klimt’s landscapes sold after the show. Otto Kallir sold Klimt’s 1905 Orchard (Plate 1) to the Carnegie Museum of Art directly following the Etienne show in 1960, and the work remains on display in Pittsburgh today.7 Klimt’s Orchard conjures the Pointillist tendencies of artists like Seurat and Signac through the stylistic choices he employs in the composition. Orchard is composed of multiple small brushstrokes that suggest natural forms of grass, leaves, and flowers. Klimt’s abstracted landscape is rather flat, and his use of color does little to imply a foreground, middle ground, and background. However, depth is communicated in Orchard through the diminishing size of small, dot-like brush strokes. In the foreground, the bright red, blue, and yellow floral shapes are larger and more easily discernible than those in the background, but the overall effect is one of simple decoration. Critics at the Etienne show were awed by Klimt’s Orchard and his other landscapes, and claimed that they were “suffused with mystery and light”8 and that they “suggest something supernatural in nature.”9 As a result of the show, Klimt’s landscapes became wildly successful. One woman was so taken with the dreamy paintings that she claimed she wanted to live in the gallery and needed to be dragged out the door at closing.10 Given our common associations with Klimt now, it seems fascinating that Klimt’s landscapes were all the rage in the 1950s, and that he was known then more as a Pointillist landscape painter rather than as an intuitive, psychoanalytic portrait painter.

Plate 1.
Gustav Klimt
Austrian, 1862-1918
Orchard, c. 1905
oil on canvas
H: 38 7/8 in. x W: 39 1/8 in. (98.74 x 99.38 cm)
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: Patrons Art Fund, 60.1

Unlike his landscape works, the portraiture shown at the Galerie St. Etienne exhibit was very much disliked by some critics. This was no doubt in part because they did not know how to handle the excessive ornament that surrounded the sitters in the portraits. A critique of the 1916 Portrait of Frederika Maria Beer claimed that, “In Portrait of F.B., the lady in a parti-colored patterned costume is standing pensively in front of a parti-colored background with violently agitated human figures. The human is swallowed by ornament.”11 This comment attacks Klimt’s stylistic choice without trying to understand it. In this portrait, Frederika, dressed in a vividly colored and heavily pattered fur jacket over a vibrant dress comprised of swirling, abstracted forms, stands and gazes out at the viewer. The sitter’s face, hair, hands, and feet are the only elements of the composition that are rendered realistically, for her clothing and the space around her are purely abstract. Instead of utilizing a strategy similar to the dot-like forms that recede into space in Orchard, Klimt did not employ any perspectival systems to create depth in the Portrait of Frederika Maria Beer. Indeed, the foreground and background are only separated by a difference in patterning. The floor is a green, blue, and yellow patterned surface adorned with white tendril-like forms, and the background behind the sitter is a Japanese-inspired, colorful and crowded space filled with samurai warriors and court men amidst abstracted, organic forms. Unlike Klimt’s landscapes which reference nature, the abstracted forms in Portrait of F.B. do not clearly refer to anything natural or recognizable, and thus seem an arbitrary choice by the artist. Robert Coates of the New Yorker commented on the technique used in Portrait of F.B.; “[…]that the modern spectator, used to a cleaner, less sentimental approach, is likely to have difficulty making any contact with (Klimt’s work).”12 The critics found comfort in the landscapes that could be stylistically grouped in with Pointillist and Impressionist styles, but were discomforted by Klimt’s techniques in portraiture that seemed excessively abstract and decorative. Robert Coates verbalized this discomfort in his statement:

He [Klimt] came along, though, in the between-time when Impressionism was moving toward Expressionism, and stylistically his work represents an uneasy link between the two movements, reflecting a number of the preoccupations that characterized the period-Pointillism in The Park, the rising interest in Oriental art in the Portrait, F.B., and something close to true Expressionism in the broadly treated The Baby13

Coates’ statement serves as written proof that the task of stylistically categorizing Klimt’s work was quite difficult for critics in 1959, and that they preferred his decorative, dreamy landscapes over the more excessively ornamented and stylistically indeterminate portraits. It is no surprise that after the show, all of Klimt’s landscapes sold to various galleries and institutions across the United States, including Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.14 In this sense, the show had succeeded in making Klimt’s name known but lacked success in generating appreciation for his entire oeuvre. The end result was that Klimt became known in the United States as a landscape painter whose work was inspired by various decorative arts movements.

In 1960, Klimt’s reception slowly started to change when Peter Selz curated the first survey exhibition of Art Nouveau at the Museum of Modern Art. The show featured Klimt’s work along with a mélange of works by artists such as Gallé, Van de Velde, Hoffman, and Beardsley and was intended to give a broad overview of international Art Nouveau. A major intention of the show was to move past the decorative nature of the works and to delve into serious consideration of them. John Jacobus wrote: “Few periods, before or since, have witnessed such a determined and successful effort to elevate the decorative arts to the level of fine arts, not just through stylistic refinement, but by giving these ‘objects’ representational and expressive qualities.”15 Jacobus’ statement urged spectators to consider the depth behind the decoration in the objects that they were viewing and to not dismiss them for fancy crafts. Although this show did not focus exclusively on Klimt’s work, it created a launching point for more serious consideration of his work in the United States.

The 1960s proved to be fruitful for reception of Klimt’s work in the United States largely because of the scholarship of Alessandra Comini, the first and most important American Klimt scholar. Comini, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote extensively on the work of Austrian and German artists, and her studies merited a showing of Austrian art at UC Berkeley entitled Viennese Expressionism. This show marked the first appearance of Viennese art on the west coast, which gave Klimt a bicoastal presence. Also significant during this era was the craze over psychedelic artwork, a craze in which reproductions of Klimt’s ornate canvases found many homes in college dormitories.16 Although Klimt’s figural compositions might not have been popular with older critics with more refined tastes, young people during the 1960s were identifying with the work of Klimt through its seductive overtones and colorful rhythms. Even in current times, many young people continue to be struck by Klimt’s work for what I believe to be the same reasons: his canvases exude certain sexual elements that are fascinating to a more youthful and experimentally open audience.

In 1965, the Guggenheim showed an exhibition entitled Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, which showcased landscapes, drawings, and portraits by Klimt. The show featured thirty-six Klimt drawings, including Nude Model and Portrait of a Woman (both early 20th century), thirteen landscapes including Orchard (1905) and Pear Trees (1903), and eleven figural works, including Medicine (detail from the Stoclet Frieze; 1899-1907) and Mäda Primaversi (1912). This exhibition was the first outside of the Galerie St. Etienne to feature Klimt as an important painter in his own right. The show was notably successful, despite the negative reviews by critic Anthony West who claimed that his art was a “vulgar fraud” and that Klimt and Schiele both were “second-rate” artists.17 Clearly, the show was not for everyone. Important, however, is the fact the Guggenheim presented Klimt as not just an Art Nouveau painter, but the “quintessential Art Nouveau painter,” thus making it known that Klimt deserved respect and acclaim for his artistic contributions.18 Moreover, the show communicated that his art should not be lumped in with other decorative works from the early 20th century.

The next twenty years did not yield much for Klimt until the 1986 blockbuster show Vienna 1900 at the Museum of Modern Art. Curator Kirk Varnedoe strayed away from the “Art Nouveau” label of the 1960 Guggenheim show and set out to showcase Austrian works in general in a new, more dignified manner. Klimt was granted a large presence in the show that featured many of his most famous works, including his ever-famous The Kiss (1907-08), a majestic gold-encrusted and exquisitely ornamented painting of two lovers embracing. The canvas was flown across the ocean from the Belvedere Museum in Austria to be part of this monumental U.S. exhibition. Varnedoe viewed Klimt as, “a culture hero whose stature transcended matters of medium or style.”19 This reference serves as the first in which Klimt was not associated with a movement or style, but rather was allowed to exist as a unique and serious vanguard artist. Not labeling Klimt or shoving him into a category proved to be a great success strategy for Varnedoe. The market boomed with buyers after the show, all of them wanting Klimts for their private collections.20 Finally, after years of travails, Klimt was known in the United States not just as a decorative painter, but instead as a serious painter whose canvases were coveted by galleries and collectors alike.

The Vienna 1900 show was clearly thrilling for American art collectors, but the unfortunate circumstances surrounding many of Klimt’s paintings made it difficult for Americans to acquire them for themselves. The majority of Klimt’s exquisite canvases belonged to the Belvedere Museum in Austria or private collectors, and countless others had either been destroyed or were lost during the Second World War. Shortly after the show at MoMA in the 1990s, the issue of recovering and repatriating stolen artwork became a highly important matter in the United States. With regard to Klimt’s presence in the United States, the issue of restitution surrounding Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Plate 2) became a critical moment in his reception history. Klimt’s reputation in America was forever to be changed in 2006, when the Ronald S. Lauder, founder of New York City’s Neue Galerie, purchased Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer from Maria Altmann, one of the last surviving heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family. Beyond its use of gold and exquisite ornamentation, Adele is a piece of history that should never be forgotten. The youthful face that looks out at us did not predict the trials and tribulations, destitution, and the loss and suffering that the Bloch-Bauers suffered along with numerous other Jewish families under the Third Reich. The Portrait of Adele-Bloch Bauer is history, for the immortalized face of youthful Adele tells the tale of a time of prosperity and female liberties, a time of culture and art, and a time before things changed forever when Hitler came to power in Germany. Moreover, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is the embodiment of humans trying to right the wrongs of their predecessors by returning possessions back to those who rightfully owned them. Thus, Adele Bloch-Bauer is not just a Klimt, but rather one of the most important works of Klimt’s oeuvre, whose rich historical significance and immense beauty possess the power to completely awe and astound the viewing audience.

The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Plate 2) from 1907 is undeniably one of Klimt’s most extraordinary paintings. Adele, rosy-cheeked and coy, looks out at the viewer with a droopy eyed and lustful gaze. Her pursed, rouged lips subtly accent the overall sexuality of her stance. Her hands are clasped in a rather awkward position, making her appear somewhere in between poised and nervous, as if she is experiencing a bashful kind of sexual anxiety. Like a goddess, Adele sits atop a throne-like pedestal created from abstracted, swirling forms. Her elaborate gold dress, composed of Egyptian eyes of Horus and vulvar forms,21 engulfs the lower half of her body and spills out of the composition. In addition to her gown, Adele wears an exquisite necklace embedded with precious gems and bracelets of silver and gold that heighten the overall lavishness of her attire. In a similar style as employed in Portrait of Frederika Maria Beer, Klimt has made Adele’s face, chest, and hands the only realistically rendered areas of the painting. The rest of the composition; the golden background, the abstract throne, and the exquisite dress, all work to create the fantastic and dream-like world that immortalizes Adele Bloch-Bauer. The rich composition is one from Klimt’s “golden era” period in which he was particularly interested in mimicking the glorious golden imagery found in Byzantine mosaics. It took Klimt several years to finish Adele’s portrait because he took multiple trips to Italy in the early 1900s to study directly from the original iconic works that he desired to emulate. It seems excessive that he did all of this to produce a painting, but Adele was a special customer, and Klimt would only produce the best for her.

Plate 2.
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I, 1907
Oil, silver, and gold on canvas
140 x 140 cm (55 1/8 x 55 1/8 in.)
Neue Galerie New York. This acquisition made available in part through the
Generosity of the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer.

This description of Klimt’s glorious canvas brings up a rather important question: who was Adele Bloch-Bauer? Enthroned like a queen and surrounded by gold, she certainly seems important. Adele, the seventh child of the prominent Jewish Bauer family, was born on August 8, 1881, shortly after the family had moved from the Bavarian town of Buttenweisen to Vienna’s Ringstrasse. At the age of eighteen, Adele was wed to Jewish sugar industrialist Ferdinand Bloch in 1899, and the families merged names to create the name Bloch-Bauer, the seal of the union between the two families. The marriage was arranged, and Adele had no say in it, for “a wealthy girl was like a jewel, to be locked away until her family found a worthy setting,” which did not leave Adele much room to explore her feminine identity at a young age.22 However, Adele did not intend to fulfill a traditional housewife role, and her marriage to Ferdinand allowed her to blossom as a woman.

Although Adele was not allowed to enter school, she surrounded herself with intellectuals and began to learn on her own. She was very much aligned with the goals of the socialist party, and advocated social reform, workers’ education, and women’s suffrage.23 Adele was also a chain smoker, a self-proclaimed atheist, and a lover of Secessionist art. She did not spend her idle time cleaning or sewing, but instead, reading and discussing. Adele was not a conventional woman, but a woman with strong opinions that deserved to be heard, and she was not shy about expressing herself. She believed in the future of women, but above all, the future of people, and was a source of inspiration to those around her. Adele was attracted to Klimt’s work because she believed that he saw something in women that others did not see, that he had a Freudian knowledge of women’s true desires that far surpassed popular conceptions about women and their roles. He was psychologically invested in his patrons, and “portrayed women as individuals, without the presence of a husband, father, or children to suggest their domestic roles.”24 Klimt’s artistic vision was very much in line with Adele’s personal vision, and thus the two became great friends and mutual beneficiaries through high art and deep thought.

Adele and Ferdinand became two of the most important Klimt patrons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, and Ferdinand commissioned Klimt to paint two different portraits of Adele during her lifetime. The Bloch-Bauers also owned several other Klimts, including an array of landscapes and drawings. Unfortunately, Adele died of meningitis in the winter of 1925 at forty-three years old, leaving her husband widowed with no children, and only the portraits of her to survive alongside him. As a charitable woman who knew nothing of what was to come of her family, she willed that her Klimt portraits were be donated to the Belvedere after she and Ferdinand were both deceased.

Adele fortunately died before she was able to see the terror caused by the Nazi regime, but her husband was not so lucky. Ferdinand was forced into exile in Switzerland after the Nazis invaded his home and seized all of his assets in 1939. His art collection was stowed away, and under the Third Reich, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer resurfaced several times during the 1940s to appear in Viennese exhibitions. The Nazis changed the name of the painting to Dame in Gold in an effort to rid the work of its ties to Judaism and degeneracy.25 Portraits of Jewish socialites were merely trash to the Reich, yet the portrait of Adele possessed a certain beauty that even they could not deny. Having no idea of the whereabouts of his art, Ferdinand willed the little that he still owned to his descendants Luise, Maria, and Albert before his death in November of 1945.26 The inconsistencies between Adele’s will and Ferdinand’s will ended up creating a heated controversy when the issue of restitution for art stolen under the Third Reich came about in the 1990s.

Over fifty years after the end of World War II, in December of 1998, the road to restitution finally started being paved. In Washington D.C., representatives from forty different countries passed the Washington Principles, a document that was committed to resolving issues of looted art. It encouraged individuals to speak up and assert claims for their losses.27 For the first time, people were encouraged to gain some peace of mind through the possibility of getting back what was rightfully theirs. Many people went through the painstaking process of trying to recover family heirlooms and valuable possessions to no avail, which was both an arduous and infuriating process. Maria Altmann, Los Angeles resident and heir to the Bloch-Bauer family, was determined to get her family’s paintings back. With the help of her unwavering lawyer Randol Schoenberg, a descendant of a Viennese composer who had fled Nazi Germay, Altmann was one of the first restitution success stories.

The story of how Adele ended up in America is one of the most famous cases in restitution history, and one of the most highly popularized court cases of the early 21st century. Due to the differences between Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer’s wills, there seemed to be no firm answer as to whom the paintings actually belonged. Altmann and Schoenberg persisted for eight years, flying back and forth to Vienna, and appearing in front of juries in what seemed like an endless battle. Finally, in January of 2006, the court agreed to nullify Adele’s will based on the consensus that it was a mere request rather than a legal order. Ferdinand’s will then became the will honored, and his will deemed that his property was to be distributed to his remaining three heirs; Luise, Maria, and Albert. On January 15, 2006, Randol Schoenberg and Maria Altmann had won!28 Not only was this a victory for Maria Altmann and Randol Schoenberg, but it was a ray of hope to others who had lost so much during the war. The case was widely publicized, and caused quite a buzz about Klimt, restitution, and the Bloch-Bauer family in America.

The Altmann case proved to be the biggest fame-making event for Klimt in the United States. Maria and the other Bloch-Bauer heirs decided to auction the paintings at Christie’s, and the Bloch-Bauer Klimt collection sold in six minutes for a total of $491 million. Christopher Burge, an honorary chairman of Christie’s claimed that it was “the most extraordinary auction of his career” and that it “totaled $200 million more than the highest sale ever held!”29 In little over sixty years’ time, a work by Klimt in the United States went from being unsellable to being one of the most expensive buys in the art world, with the help of a few winning exhibitions and a blockbuster court case.

The beautiful and ornate Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer now rests on permanent display at the Neue Galerie, and Ronald Lauder, the chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery, could not have been more excited to finally have her. Lauder had lusted after Adele since he was a young boy, and he claimed that, “It’s not just a portrait. It captures all the emotions, all of the spirit that was embodied in turn-of-the-century Vienna. It represents everything that was Vienna at that time. You cannot find a more important piece of Austrian art than this painting.”30 Lauder and the Neue Galerie staff call Adele the gallery’s Mona Lisa, and are exceedingly proud of their Austrian treasure.31 Although some scoffed at the price of Neue Galerie’s purchase, others understood that importance comes for a price. One critic noted that, “Someday Adele will be seen for just what she is: beautiful, a gift to the city. And $135 million may even come to look like a bargain.”32

Though no one can entirely rationalize an expenditure of $135 million for a painting, the importance of Adele’s presence in America becomes clear when one goes to the Neue Galerie and views the painting in person. I visited the Neue Galerie on a Monday morning in March of 2014, and arrived at the space at exactly eleven a.m. when the gallery opened. Filled with excitement, I ascended the swirling Viennese-inspired stairwell up to the gallery space in which I knew Adele rested. When I saw her for myself, I was in absolute awe, for photographs do no justice to the richness and majesty of the painting. Displayed in her own inlaid space and nestled in between two identical sculptures by George Minne entitled Kneeling Youths (1898), the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer rules the gallery space. All of the other works in the room, many also by Klimt, are hung from the ceiling using rope and are displayed in gold frames. Adele is the only work that is presented in an entirely unique fashion. Her subdued golden frame is literally recessed into the wall on which she rests, making it known that her permanent home is within the Neue Galerie.

Within twenty minutes of the gallery opening on a Monday morning, and with most of the gallery shut down to prepare for another exhibition which was to open in three days, a crowd of people had entered the space and were surrounding Adele. Young and old alike, everyone seemed to be captivated by her beauty and unified by their fixation on her over any of the other works in the room. Two women sat on the sofa in front of her for over half an hour, just gazing at the canvas and conversing intermittently. Others stood around her and pointed at specific places on the canvas, seeming to notice different things that perhaps they did not notice previously when viewing the work. I was certainly happy to have been the first person at the gallery on that particular Monday, for I got to spend some much coveted time alone with Adele, but I also was able to witness firsthand the effect that her presence at the Neue Galerie has on the public. I certainly was not expecting a crowd of people that early in the morning on a day in which only the permanent gallery was open, and my prior conceptions of the experience were altered by this phenomenon. At that moment, it truly seemed like Adele was the most popular woman in Manhattan.

Experiencing Adele at the Neue Galerie was an eye opening realization of just how important she is to the art collection in which she resides, and moreover, how important she is to the United States. Regardless of whether or not critics compare her to a showgirl or put her on a pedestal like a queen, her presence in New York has attracted people to the Neue Galerie since 2006, and in doing so, has created many new fans of Klimt’s work. It is highly likely that this would not have been possible if it weren’t for both the opening of the Neue Galerie in 2001 and the persistent efforts of the Galerie St. Etienne. Together, they have allowed the American public to experience an abundant bounty of Austrian and German works over the years. Thanks to these efforts, coupled with the Schoenberg case of 2006, Klimt is now a revered name in America, and those who admire him treasure his presence on our soil. Though his origins here were rocky, we can now say that Klimt has a lasting presence in the United States, and we are lucky to have a treasure like the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer in one of our collections.


1 Kimmelman, Michael. “New Klimt in Town: The Face That Set the Market Buzzing.” New York Times, July 14, 2006.

2 Varnedoe, Kirk. Vienna 1900: Art, Architecture, and Design, 158. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1986.

3 Price, Renée. “Klimt and America.” In Gustav Klimt : the Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky collections,    edited by Renée Price et. al, 19-20. New York: Neue Galerie,  Prestel Verlag, 2007.

4 Werner, Alfred. “The World of Gustav Klimt.” Arts 33, no. 7 (April 1959).

5 “Gustav Klimt [St. Etienne; April 1-May 2].” Art News 2 (April 1959).

6 Ibid.

7 Price, 22.

8 Genauer, Emily. “Exhibits from Italy and Austria: Austrian Artist.” New York Herald Tribune, April 6, 1959.

9 Preston, Stuart. “Cross Currents of Modern Art.” New York Times, April 5, 1959.

10 “Art in Brief: Paintings Rekindle Dreams.” New York Journal American (April 11, 1959).

11 “Gustav Klimt [St. Etienne; April 1-May 2].” Art News 2 (April 1959).

12 Coates, Robert. “The Art Galleries.” The New Yorker, April 25, 1959.

13 Ibid.

14 Price, 22.

15 Jacobus, John M. “Art Nouveau in New York.” The Burlington Magazine 102, no. 690 (September 1960): 392-93. JSTOR.

16 Price, 27.

17 Price, 24.

18 Dobai, Johannes. “Gustav Klimt-Art Nouveau Painter.” In Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, 20. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1965.

19 Varnedoe, 149.

20 Price, 28.

21 O’Connor, Anne M. The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, 58. New York: Knopf, 2012.

22 O’Connor, 20.

23 Lillie, Sophie, and Georg Gaugusch. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, 38. New York: Neue Galerie Museum for German and Austrian Art, 2007.

24 O’Connor, 42.

25 O’Connor, 152.

26 O’Connor, 199.

27 Müller, Melissa, and Monika Tatzkow. Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice, 8. New York: Vendome Press, 2010.

28 O’Connor, 250-251.

29 O’Connor, 292-3.

30 O’Connor, 271.

31 Lillie, Sophie, and Georg Gaugusch. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. New York: Neue Galerie Museum for German and Austrian Art, 2007. Pg. 9.

32 Kimmelman, Michael. “New Klimt in Town: The Face That Set the Market Buzzing.” New York Times, July 14, 2006.


“Art in Brief: Paintings Rekindle Dreams.” New York Journal American (April 11, 1959).

“Art for Christmas.” Art News (December 1961).

Coates, Robert. “The Art Galleries.” The New Yorker, April 25, 1959.

Dobai, Johannes. “Gustav Klimt-Art Nouveau Painter.” In Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, 15-21. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1965.

“Gustav Klimt [St. Etienne; April 1-May 2].” Art News 2 (April 1959).

Genauer, Emily. “Exhibits from Italy and Austria: Austrian Artist.” New York Herald Tribune, April 6, 1959.

Jacobus, John M. “Art Nouveau in New York.” The Burlington Magazine 102, no. 690 (September 1960): 392-97. JSTOR.

Kimmelman, Michael. “New Klimt in Town: The Face That Set the Market Buzzing.” New York Times, July 14, 2006.

Lillie, Sophie, and Georg Gaugusch. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. New York: Neue Galerie Museum for German and Austrian Art, 2007.

Müller, Melissa, and Monika Tatzkow. Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice. New York: Vendome Press, 2010.

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Volume 6, Fall 2014