Lauder and Sabarsky conceived the idea for the museum. Sabarsky, an art dealer and art exhibition organizer and Lauder, a businessman, philanthropist and art collector were friends for nearly three decades and they shared a passionate commitment for German and Austrian art of the early 20th century. The museum features Austrian artists such as Gustav Klimt and German arists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Egon Schiele and Paul Klee.
Ronald S. Lauder, also heir to the cosmetics fortune, former American ambassador to Austria, once a mayoral candidate, prodigious art collector and major benefactor of Jewish causes, knows a lot about art stolen by the Nazis, much of it from Jews.
Starting in the mid-1990's he became a vocal champion of restitution of the artwork to their rightful heirs, an issue that was then erupting across Europe and the United States after 50 years of silence.
As chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. Lauder has been a patron of scattered efforts to help Jews reclaim what had been theirs. In testimony before Congress, he called these stolen artwork "the last prisoners of war."
Many of the works of the Austrian artists, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, belonged to Jewish collectors before World War II and were stolen and lost during the Nazi years, and many of their owners were killed in the Holocaust. Mr. Lauder, who bought his first Schiele drawings as a teenager with his bar mitzvah money, says that few people paid attention to provenance when he entered the market in the late 1960's under the tutelage of Serge Sabarsky. Both Sabarsky's and Lauder's collections hang in the Neue gallery.
An extra treat that this museum offers is the cafe serving Viennese pastries and coffee.
And then there's...Have you ever heard of the American artist, Edward Hopper, 1882-1967? I get an email called DelanceyPlace.com and every day it delivers an excerpt from or about a well known person in literature, science, art, education and so on. Today's excerpt was about Edward Hopper. The name was so familiar to me, but I could not for the life of me remember why. Just a bit of research gave me the clue that I needed. "He was born in the small Hudson River town of Nyack, New York State, on 22 July 1882." Several years ago, we took a weekend trip to visit the Hudson Valley and there I was, for the first time, exposed to the Hudson River School Artists. Hopperwas born at the end of this period, but I imagine growing up there, he was influenced by it. In any case, looking now at his paintings, I could not stop. I can't say exactly what it was that attracted me so and kept my attention, but I guess that's what art is about. It's the pull, the attraction and though understanding some theory and techniques can add much to a piece of art, in reality, what matters most is the chemistry you have or don't have with the art. I don't know how it will translate here, but when I viewed these works from the WebMuseum Paris Site on my monitor they were beautiful. The light and air in these paintings stir me like no paintings I've seen before. They also impart a profound sense of time and place. Should you wish to join me at the Whitney, The Met or The Brooklyn Museum of Art some day, what a pleasure it would be. And if you can expound on what makes these paintings so wonderful, I invite you to share.
Drug Store 1927, Oil on canvas, 29 x 40 inches; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Early Sunday Morning 1930, Oil on canvas, 35 x 60 in; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gas 1940, Oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 40 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Lighthouse at Two Lights 1929, Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 43 1/4 inches; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York