Van Gogh and Expressionism at Neue Galerie
Despite my usual resentments toward the Neue Galerie—too expensive for such a small space (an exclusionary tactic?); too uptight, with no one under the age of 12 allowed—I decided to swallow my righteousness and check out the Van Gogh and Expressionism show. And while there certainly were a number of beautiful works on display here, the whole thing had a somewhat stale, been-there-done-that feel to it. In fact, I wish I held on to my indignation a little longer, and skipped the exhibit entirely.
The concept is simple: how Vincent Van Gogh, both in his creative techniques as well as his emotional intensity, posthumously influenced the works and lives of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Vasily Kandinsky, Otto Dix and others of their German/Austrian Expressionistic ilk. Fine. But many, if not most, of these works—there are 60 pieces in all, both drawings and paintings—seem to be from the Neue Galerie's permanent collection, so if you've been here before, you've seen these Klimts. If you came for the Schiele show last year, you've seen these Schieles. If you went to the Van Gogh exhibit at the Met in 2005, you've seen many of these VVGs. Again, there is some magnificent art here—I particularly liked the Kandinskys, and the portraits by Oskar Kokoschka, and perhaps most of all a series of graphic, dynamic Kirchner woodcuts hanging in the upstairs hallway—and I know I wouldn't sound so cranky if I hadn't paid $15 to see these six small rooms. But I did. So I am.
The Neue Galerie is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street. The Van Gogh and Expressionism exhibit runs through July 2. Admission is $15 (as much as $14.99 more than the pay-what-you-wish Metropolitan Museum across the street), and no one under 12 is allowed; under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.