Richard Gerstl at the Neue Galerie

Richard Gerstl, Selbstbildnis (Akt in ganzer Figur), 12 September 1908. Oil on canvas, 140.5 x 119.5 cms. Leopold Museum.

Opening this Thursday, June 29, and running through September 25, the Neue Galerie‘s exhibition Richard Gerstl will throw a spotlight on the career of the Austrian painter with the display of approximately 55 paintings and works on paper. Gerstl (1883-1908) was not well known in his lifetime, but he is increasingly recognized as one of the central artists of Austrian Expressionism. This earlier neglect may be, perhaps, because of his scandalous private life and the circumstances of his death (he apparently managed to both hang and stab himself at the same time), which may have overshadowed the work itself, disturbing as that is as well. One gallery of the exhibition will be dedicated to his relationship with Arnold and Mathilde Schönberg, a relationship that was instrumental in leading him to his suicide.

The exhibition was organized by Jill Lloyd and will be accompanied by the publication of a new catalog published by Hirmer. I’ll be there for the unveiling tomorrow night (following a bracing dinner at Heidelberg with my lovely wife, who will be making her own contribution to the effort in July with a members-only concert); if you plan on going yourself once the exhibition opens to the public, Alex Ross’s essay “The Final, Shocking Self-Portrait of Richard Gerstl” — the one you’ll find above, which Facebook and Twitter both reject, for some unfathomable reason — in the June 22 New Yorker will get you up to speed.

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