resolving into patterns...

There was a line out the door of the Neue Gallerie when we went there last Thursday. Everyone wanted to push in and see the new Klimt show, and stare at the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer…even though said painting has been on display at the Neue Gallerie for years. Drat that Ryan Reynolds! The popularity of the movie “Woman in Gold” (starring the incomparable Helen Mirren) has brought new media attention to this work, and people who may have walked by it and shrugged in the past, now feel a connection to it as an object with a heritage in the complex stories of the Holocaust. Hence the crush of people wanting to see the piece just now.

Of course, the Neue Gallerie’s decision to build a loosely connected portrait show around their prize just at this moment is clearly meant as a media tie-in. The way this work is featured in the film is one of the most elaborate “product placement” situations I can remember. People will be flocking to the Neue for years to see the work as a result.

Left unexamined in this little exhibit were the connections some of the other works had to turn-of-the-century Vienna. There were two works by Richard Gerstl in the next room. Gerstl was an astonishing artist, who pushed the notion of representational painting right to the edge of abstract expressionism - in 1908! He died at his own hand at the age of 26, after having an affair with Matthilde Schoenberg, wife of the composer who is the grandfather of Randy Schoenberg, the lawyer who was involved in the case with the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer documented in the film. It was a very small world in Vienna.

Seeing several works by Klimt, including his nearly abstract landscape pieces, one can’t help but notice that his fondness for pattern and decoration often pushes his work right to the edge of abstraction (though not an “expressionistic” abstraction, ala Gerstl, or Kandinsky, whose work was featured one floor up at the Neue). The repetition of small motifs in Klimt reminds me more of Middle Eastern art, or perhaps even Persian miniatures, where areas are filled in with a flat zone of pattern, rather than “realistic” three-dimensional painting. Had Klimt seen work like that? He’d probably seen Japanese prints, where similar kinds of flat areas of pattern occur. Indeed, only the realistically rendered face and hands prevents the portrait of Adele from being a shiny swirl of abstraction.

But then, isn’t that our lives in general these days, when what we see on a flat screen sometimes has more validity and meaning than the world around us? There were lots of people cruising through the museums we visited, staring at their cell phones rather than looking at the art. They were more engaged in product placements and swirling patterns of pixels than in the world around us. (When we walked out of the Met, it was a warm, lovely spring day in New York, and people were sitting around the fountain out front - and everyone of them was playing with their cell phone. Nobody was in the moment.)

The Life Ball: Chaos Makes It Fabulous

“This whole thing about Life Ball is no one knows what the fuck they’re doing! But we do know why we’re all here, and the chaos makes it fabulous,” laughs Kelly Osbourne, one of my fellow judges for the Life Ball style jury, a committee of six charged with selecting the attendee who sports the most spectacular, the most astonishing, the most frankly insane ensemble of the night.

It’s the 23rd edition of the annual Viennese charity gala, dedicated to raising money for AIDS and HIV research, and there are 100 red-carpet contestants to be ranked for relative fabulosity. This year the theme is the ancient Roman spring festival Ver Sacrum, and guests were instructed to wear gold in honor of the artist Gustav Klimt, whose painting The Kiss hangs in the Belvedere here and whose Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, stolen by the Nazis, was returned in 2006 to its rightful owner after a long court battle with the Austrian government. This story is chronicled in the film Woman in Gold, which is actually playing tonight at a theater just down The Opernring, walking distance from the ball.


Hana Jirickova and Kelly Osbourne

Photo: Nigel Treblin/Life Ball 2015/Getty Images

The contestants sally down the carpet (not red, but glitter-flecked magenta) in no apparent order—here comes number 92, followed by number 17—a joyous, raucous, rowdy cavalcade of hairy fairy princesses, porcine strippers, lecherous Roman deities, pirates in metallic doubloons, Tinker Bells, Valkyries, winged refugees from a road company of Angels in America, and even a single mikado in purple sequins who clearly didn’t get the gold memo. Our ballots feature five emojis, from ecstatically grinning to harshly scowling—perhaps designed for judges too tipsy to handle numbers.

Shards of tinsel descend from headdresses and add to the shiny dust blanketing the carpet; the procession, already anarchic, is further slowed down by sloshing champagne and incessant, insistent requests for selfies with Kelly! Kelly! (The winner, it will be announced hours later, is number 43, a Liberace-gladiator hybrid with a vast sacred heart of Jesus pinned to his chest.)


Mary J. Blige

Photo: Nigel Treblin/Life Ball 2015/Getty Images

It is a picture-perfect night in Europe, and thousands of costumed revelers are camped in this sylvan setting, hanging from trees, scanning the distant Life Ball stage to catch a glimpse of Sean Penn and Charlize Theron, the keynote speakers, and Mary J. Blige​, and Jean Paul Gaultiers fashion show. At nearly midnight, this highly decorated throng will storm the Town Hall, ready to indulge in an evening of legendary hard partying and cheerful debauchery.

It is easy to imagine, if only for a few moments, that so many gorgeous, well-meaning people, in such a glorious setting, cannot only defeat an epidemic, but vanquish forever the brutal history surrounding those golden Klimts.

The post The Life Ball: Chaos Makes It Fabulous appeared first on Vogue.

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WOMAN IN GOLD is a slightly cheesy Disneyesque tale about a painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1, that was taken during the Nazi occupation of Austria, and getting it re-united with family decades later. Regardsless of the story or levels of cheese it has Helen Mirren so it is a must see. Out today in Australia from Roadshow Films.

More of the bae 💖 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt (at MoMA The Museum of Modern Art)

Nancy Moses Book Launch

 Nancy Moses, Stolen, Smuggled, Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures

Thursday, June 25, 2015, 5:30 PM

This revealing study of treasures lost and found begins with the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (by Gustav Klimt), which was stolen by the Nazis, but it doesn’t stop there. Nancy Moses prowls through museum records, newspapers, and interviews to uncover the stories of such treasures as the typeset manuscript for Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, a ceremonial Ghost Dance short from the massacre at Wounded Knee, the theft of 4,800 historical audio discs by a top official at the National Archives, a missing original copy of The Bill of Rights, the mummy of Ramses I, and an ancient treasure from Iraq – all objects that went astray but were eventually returned to the rightful owner.

Athenaeum shareholder Nancy Moses has previously published Lost in the Museum: Hidden Treasures and the Stories They Tell, which won the 2008 Gold Medal from ForeWord Magazine. Formerly Executive Director for the Atwater Kent Museum, Nancy Moses is now a consultant for museum, cultural institutions, and community organizations. Reception and book signing to follow.

Free for Athenaeum Members, All others $10.   Members may RSVP by calling 215-925-2688 or emailing

Italia Films set to release Helen Mirren - Ryan Reynold's drama 'Women in Gold' on June 4 all over U.A.E!!

Italia Films set to release Helen Mirren - Ryan Reynold’s drama ‘Women in Gold’ on June 4 all over U.A.E!! #WomaninGold #RyanReynolds #HelenMirren #KatieHolmes #DanielBruhl

Synopsis – The remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Together with…

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The Woman In Gold Movie Review

History is a funny thing. We try to forget, but it always come back when we least expect it. And sometimes, when our history comes back, it allows us to make peace with the past.

Maria Altmann ( nee Bloch-Bauer) lived a charmed life during her early years. The daughter of an influential and wealthy Jewish Viennese family, she lived comfortably until World War II. Then the Nazis invaded Austria. Maria and her husband barely escaped, leaving everyone and everything they loved behind in Vienna. Among her family’s possessions that was confiscated by the Nazis was the portrait of Maria’s aunt, Adele Bloch- Bauer, painted by famed painter Gustav Klimt.

The new film, Woman In Gold, is the story of Maria’s fight to regain possession of the painting and other works of art that the Nazis confiscated from her family.

The film sees Maria during very different stages of her life. Helen Mirren plays the elderly Maria and Tatiana Maslany plays the younger Maria. Fighting along with Maria is Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a young lawyer whose family has been long connected to Maria’s family.

Helen Mirren, is well, Helen Mirren. She is one of those actresses who never fails to displease an audience. Her Maria is an elderly woman who goes back to Vienna despite the ghosts and the  memories that linger. As the younger Maria, Tatiana Maslany proves why she is one of the best young actresses in the business. Ryan Reynolds, in stepping out of his comfort zone to play Randol, a young lawyer who not only comes to understand and appreciate his heritage, but also knows when it’s time to fight the big boys.

I absolutely recommend this film.

Woman In Gold is presently in theaters.

Gustav Klimt “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” oil and gold on canvas in 1907.

Yesterday’s post of Rick Owen’s beauty shot reminded me of Gustav Klimt’s amazing paintings using the gold leaf technique. The masterpiece above is a personal favourite of mine. #GustavKlimt #WomaninGold #painting #timeless #artwork #symbolism #artnouveau #modernart #exotic #potd by artwithkate