This afternoon we went to see “Woman in Gold" at the Paris Theater, the account of Maria Altmann's fight to reclaim a famed Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt, stolen by the Nazis before appropriated by Austria after the war. We found the film, which combines flashbacks of Maria's pre-war life in Vienna and the complexity of her legal quest to take ownership of the painting moving, fascinating, and we both experienced a connection to the story of our own families in Nazi-invaded Germany. Adele Bloch-Bauer was a wealthy patron of the arts and a hostess of a renowned Viennese Salon in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Her husband, industrialist Ferdinand Bloch commissioned Gustav Klimt to create two portraits that were hung at their majestic home in the first district of Vienna. One of them, the so-called Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which is today at the collection of the Neue Galerie, depicts Adele as a Byzantine empress. Like other Jews of their generation, the Blochs perceived patronage of avant-garde art and progressive design as a way to distance themselves from their parents’ generation, seeking to recreate a Jewish identity for successful Jews living in Vienna, and thus utilized their wealth to acquire taste for the modern and to support emerging artists. If you go to the film, I recommend following up with the new exhibition “Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer: The Woman in Gold at the Neue Galerie.
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