Monica Strauss

Klimt’s Last Retrospective

Museum officials are calling the exhibition now on display at New York’s Neue Galerie America’s first-ever Gustav Klimt retrospective. But can the eight paintings and 120 drawings on view be considered a true “retrospective”? The exhibition is not drawn from a variety of sources; it is, rather, made up of a single — albeit impressive — collection. At its heart, the show is just as much a tribute to the efforts of the two men who have amassed it — the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky and the cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder — as it is a tribute to the artist himself. Then again, despite Klimt’s ever-growing popularity, no country, not even his native Austria, could mount an exhibition that does full justice to the artist’s career.