New York City, NY
Approximately 55 paintings and works on paper will be on display, including portraits, frontal nude figures, highly gestural group portraits, landscapes, and comparative works by Gerstl’s artistic contemporaries. A special gallery will be devoted to Gerstl’s relationship with the leading Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg; the artist’s friendship with Schönberg abruptly ended in 1908 upon the disclosure of the love affair between Gerstl and Schönberg’s wife Mathilde. Although Gerstl’s extant body of work comprises only approximately 90 works, his groundbreaking style is central to the development of the Expressionist movement of fin-de-siècle Vienna.
Richard Gerstl is the first museum retrospective in the United States devoted to the work of the Austrian Expressionist (1883-1908). Gerstl was an extremely original artist whose psychologically intense figure paintings and landscapes constitute a radically unorthodox oeuvre that defied the reigning concepts of style and beauty during his time. The long-standing secrecy surrounding Gerstl’s dramatic and untimely suicide at the age of 25, and the scandalous love affair that preempted his death, only further magnify the legend that has flowered around this lesser known, but influential member of Vienna’s artistic avant-garde at the turn of the twentieth century. The show is organized by Expressionist scholar Jill Lloyd, who has assembled several important exhibitions for the Neue Galerie, including "Van Gogh and Expressionism" in 2007, "Ferdinand Hodler: View to Infinity" in 2012, and "Munch and Expressionism" in 2016.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Richard Gerstl: Retrospective provides a comprehensive portrait of his amazingly short, but powerfully prolific career, with more than eighty works by the artist. Richard Gerstl (1883–1908) has recently emerged from the shadows of his contemporaries Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele to be ranked by art historians as one of the leading artists of the Vienna-based Austria expressionist movement at the beginning of the twentieth century. This lush catalog of his work introduces this significant artist to a broad, international audience. Gerstl painted for just four to six years before his tragic suicide at age twenty-five. Because he had refused to show his work during his lifetime, he was for many years largely overlooked. But his portraits and landscapes like Self Portrait Against a Blue Background and The Fey Sisters are today regarded by both the academy and the art world as some of best examples of Austrian expressionism for their ability to evoke a visceral, emotional response in viewers through their distorted forms and exaggeratedly expressive use of color.
Richard Gerstl: Retrospective