Best museum to contemplate La Deutsche Vita - 2007
Just a stone's throw from the Met, the Neue Galerie offers one of the most intriguing collections of German and Austrian art and interior-design exhibits from the early 20th century. Of course, the centerpiece of the collection is Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, an engrossing assemblage of gold leaf and paint that the gallery acquired last summer for a reported $135 million, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold. But the emaciated watercolor figures of Egon Schiele are disturbingly evocative of early-20th-century Mitteleuropa's preoccupation with the soullessness and alienation of modernity. (Schiele sketched Russian prisoners while a soldier in the Austrian army, and the meat-grinding regularity of the slaughter clearly haunts his works.) The gallery is located in a stunning former mansion, and the café wonderfully replicates the cuisine and atmosphere of imperial Vienna. The whole effect is a disturbing yet strangely luxurious window into the aesthetics of a world on the brink of war and madness.