All That’s Neue

We were hustled in the door, our bags increasing our bulk through the black wrought iron and glass doors that the security guard held open as he spit out the rules and regulations of entering the building in a hurried monotonous stream. Our heads half frozen from the cold just nodded and moved past him into the foyer where two more guards looked through our bags. ”You have drinks.” One of the guards remarked to me. “Oh. Yes, true.” I acknowledged looking at the four bottles of Schweppes bitter lemon sodas. “No drinks.” he said.  “But they’re closed, you’d need an opener to open them, they are not water bottles, yes they are liquids, but we are not drinking these. No, they are not even for us, they’re gifts for someone else. Couldn’t open them if we even wanted to- which we don’t actually want to do.”

He abandoned our babbling and went to get the guard outside, “They have drinks” he tattled on us. We looked at Head Guard as he approached, our eyebrows raised, eyes lowered in innocent supplication. In a disgusted voice he said, “No. I already told you: NO drinks. I said that.” “Yes. True. You did say that,” I rejoined, his former words and admonitions only just landing on my brain at that very moment, “but we are not drinking these. Ever.” He waved us off,  deciding that he’d wasted enough time on us already, but ordered us to check our bags. After the metal detector and the pat down, we finally got into the Neue Galerie.

Was that all-together necessary I asked myself while standing in the bag-check line which prominently proclaimed itself in immodest generosity: complimentary. The munificence ended there. Surely the entrance fee, at $20, is steep enough to make all the security an extraneous measure in keeping away the riff raff.

After wandering around the bookstore, while we waited for a friend to join us, I weakened and gave in to my book lust. I only purchased one. One small little tiny book. The littlest indulgence really. I occupied myself while waiting in the admission line by coming up with a justification for my purchase: I triumphantly pulled out my student ID, cutting the fee in half: I had just saved myself $10 and was therefore free to spend it. They were always going to get their $20 anyway. Who am I to argue?

The Neue Galerie is a museum in a spectacular “house” at 5th Avenue and 86th street in NYC. We were there to see Egon Schiele, my daughter’s favorite artist. It is mostly comprised of German and Austrian artwork collected by Ronald Lauder. The collection is really impressive, the man has good taste. Our only complaints were reserved for the curator: the pieces were too clustered together and the information about each piece was sequestered to one corner of each wall or room. If you wanted to know what you were looking at, you had to walk across the room and puzzle out whose piece belong to whom. In one room there were many wonderful Klimt sketches lining a wall and then on the next, rows of Scheile’s, three or four high and maybe seven across. Unfortunately the top row was too high up to see well unless you were right underneath and then the lighting obscured the glass. There were many other artists to see as well, Kadinsky, Cezanne, Klee, van Gough, an armory and Medieval room we breezed through and many more. Upstairs we saw a beautiful Picasso: Woman with a Raven. But the Schiele’s… they were really so amazing to see.  We had to visit that room twice before we left; that and the two sculptures by George Minne: Kneeling Youth, that my daughter was particularly taken with: they were extraordinary.

We reluctantly passed by the fabulous looking Café Sabarsky on the first floor on our way out. When we got back to my friend’s home she put together a very fine facsimile of the Viennese style coffee house in her kitchen. Brooklyn – Vienna…close enough. Schließen Sie genug.

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