George Minne at Neue Galerie, New York City
On a recent trip to New York City, we visited the Neue Galerie to see the Messerschmidt exhibition. To be sure, the character head studies in lead and tin done by the artist over 250 years ago were all stunning.
But what moved me the most were two marble figure sculptures carved by George Minne in 1898.
These two images of “Kneeling Youths” are displayed flanking Gustav Klimt’s portrait of “Adele Bloch-Bauer”. The attitude of the poses and the gaunt physique of each sculpture are haunting. There is a lovely blend of representation and stylization that left me with a quite, introspective mood. The details of the youth’s faces and hands were offset by the long, elegant curves of the limbs and torsos. Minne’s craftsmanship is impeccable, and I was sorely tempted to touch the elegant surfaces. The sculptures seemed to have a very fine file finish and gave me pause. Today’s technologies for finishing stone sculpture allow for a more smooth surface, and were obviously not available for Minne.
What was even more touching was that the two sculptures and the painting were part of the Bloch-Bauer family collection 100 years ago. Due to various unsettling events, one being WWII, the three were separated, and only in the past few years were recovered and reunited as a suite at the Neue Galerie.