Private museums and their legacies: the case of Ronald S. Lauder and Adele Bloch-Bauer's Neue Galerie

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The Neue Galerie in New York City includes some of the most impressive and culturally-specific artwork from Ronald S. Lauder's private art collection. The Neue's permanent exhibitions showcase pieces from

The Neue Galerie in New York City includes some of the most impressive and culturally-specific artwork from Ronald S. Lauder's private art collection. The Neue's permanent exhibitions showcase pieces from the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) and Wiener Werkstätte (Applied Arts of Vienna) in an environment that also employs replicas and period specific motifs to evoke the interiors of the private homes in which affluent fin-de-siècle Viennese art patrons lived, displayed influential modernist work, and held culturally important salons. Gustav Klimt's celebrated Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) is arguably the museum's most prized artwork. It serves as an icon that immortalizes Ronald Lauder as private collector. The figure of Adele Bloch-Bauer has also become an important emblem, whose story epitomizes the complexities of Jewish identity and its influence upon Viennese modern art. This thesis explores how the Neue Galerie's physical layout represents a specific model of modernism. By focusing on the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, I urge a rethinking of the museum's relationship to modern art as an interpretation of the past. The themes that surround Adele Bloch-Bauer I have shaped Lauder's agenda as the leading private collector of the art of fin-de-siècle Vienna.