Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection is at the Met Breuer in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Tuesday – Sunday, from July 3 – October 7, 2018.
Scofield Thayer (1889 – 1982) was a wealthy American poet and publisher of The Dial literary magazine from 1919 to 1926. He is best known today for his art collection of the School of Paris which he built in London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna between 1921 and 1923. The collection is mostly nudes.
Thayer willed his collection to the Met in 1925. It was transferred to the Met after his death in 1982. The collection hasn’t been shown much because curators couldn’t think of a good story for an exhibition.
Gustav Klimt (Baumgarten, 1862 – 1918 Vienna) was an Austrian artist known for his paintings of the female form. Early in his career, he painted architectural decorations and you can see them in his fine art.
Klimt’s most famous painting is The Kiss, 1907-1908. He was known for mentoring young artists, and one of the artists who most interested him was Egon Schiele.
Egon Schiele (Tulln an der Donau, 1890 – 1918, Vienna) became Klimt’s protégé. Both drew the female form, but Schiele is remembered for the raw sexuality in his work. He became an important figure in 20th century expressionism.
Though it is not part of the show, Schiele’s Kneeling Nude with Raised Hands (1910) is one of the most important nudes of the 20th century.
It is a rare thing for Picasso to be upstaged, but he is in this exhibition. In his day, Schiele’s work was shocking. He drew figures in contortions with jagged lines and a minimal dark palette. He captured a sort of depraved beauty that actually revitalized the practice of portraiture and self-portraits.
Schiele’s work also seems to have influenced the great New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection
This exhibition marks the centennial of the deaths of artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. These works are rarely shown because they are light-sensitive.
Today, we pretty much let it all hang out, but one hundred years ago, the nude could be considered pornographic. Some of these images are aggressive in showing pubic hair, wide-open legs and even labia pulled open. But it is not necessarily the graphic genitals that are aggressive.
There is something in particular about Schiele’s work that is in your face in a punk, almost post-apocalyptic manner. It’s as if he loved the body so much that he went over to the dark side. It is striking, and beautiful to see.
One of the ways to look at the exhibition is through the social context of the period. It was the roaring Twenties. Life was good. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had been ended by World War I, but Freudian psychology from Vienna was opening the universe of the mind. The world was detaching itself from the stifling traditions of the Victorian past and people were increasingly doing whatever they wanted.
Artists were too as they explored the possibilities of putting emotions and feelings on paper and canvas.
The exhibition is organized by Sabine Rewald, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Curator for Modern Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow, some curators have longer titles than Spanish royalty.
Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection Tickets
General admission is $25
New York State residents, and New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students with a valid ID can pay what you wish at the door.
Tickets are valid for three consecutive days at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.
Visit the Met Breuer
945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021
(at 75th St)
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 5:30 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 5:30 pm
It’s a nine-minute walk between the Met Breuer and the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue.
(6) to 77th St
- M1, M2, M3 or M4 to 75th St
- M79 crosstown to Madison Avenue
Rapid Park Garage on 75th St at Madison
For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org