From the Director
Through my work as Director of Neue Galerie New York, as well as my being born and raised in Vienna, I have long been acquainted with the work of Gustav Klimt. In my view, he is the quintessential Austrian artist, combining a reverence for tradition with a strong drive toward innovation in painting. Because of my intense familiarity with Klimt, I have sometimes wondered what he was like as a person, and even whether we would have gotten along as peers. Although he was known to be a very private person, and irascible at times, there is one fact about him that makes me think we would have shared common ground: his feeling for nature. Klimt loved nothing more than his summers on the Attersee, or the time he spent in his studio garden. As an avid gardener myself, I share with Klimt a passion for the wonders of nature. Because of that sentiment, I feel a connection across the ages with this extraordinary artist.
With “Klimt Landscapes” – a new special exhibition on view from February 15 through May 6, 2024 – the Neue Galerie is moving beyond the familiar territory of the artist’s portraits and allegorical works. Here, our focus is on his landscapes. Our curator, Janis Staggs, and the exhibition designer, Bill Loccisano, have created a fine presentation of Klimt’s landscapes. I wish to thank them and the entire staff of the Neue Galerie for all their dedicated efforts to realize this special project. I also express our deepest gratitude to Ronald S. Lauder, the co-founder of our museum, whose enthusiasm, vision, and generosity for the arts is boundless. He has been a collector of Gustav Klimt for many decades. The Neue Galerie is his gift to the world, and bringing this museum to life is our great privilege.
A famous quote by Klimt reads, “There is always hope, as long as the canvases are empty.” I find it intriguing that the artist equated the empty canvas not with anxiety or any sense of fear, but with hope. It suggests the sense of endless possibility that exists for all of us. And it gives me perhaps one more reason to feel that Klimt is someone I may well have considered—and do consider, in my own way—a friend.
Director, Neue Galerie New York