4 May 2015, 4:00pm
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The Woman in Gold Movie and Exhibition

Woman in Gold: the Painting in the Movie

Woman in Gold: the Painting in the Movie

I often say I wish I could remember everything I’ve ever read as well as everything I’ve ever written. I give myself a pass on the former but in terms of the latter, I’d think I’d remember most of it. Oh, if only that were the case! In my four guidebooks, one travel memoir, almost four hundred blog posts and an assortment of freelance pieces, I’ve researched and reported intensively on subjects I’m passionate about. And yet, sometimes I catch myself in a sort of black hole-space of my mind.

Take the feature film “Woman in Gold” as an example. I’d been hearing talk about it for months and I vaguely knew about the story of Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece, Adele Bloch-Bauer, the Mona Lisa of Austria, and how it was returned to its rightful owner and found its home in America. It wasn’t until last week, however, upon seeing this fabulous movie starring Helen Mirren, one of my favorite actors, that I realized I had had the pleasure of gazing upon this magnificent work in New York City. I refer to it as “a glittering painting by Gustav Klimt” in my story Gallery Going with the Ladies of Larchmont, one of the first posts to my blog back in 2008.

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Gallery Going with the Ladies from Larchmont

I met my friend Jane fresh out of college when we worked at the Pucker Safrai art gallery together in Boston.  In addition to being incredibly smart, creative and witty, Jane’s always very up-to-the-minute with everything from the latest cooking utensil to this season’s hottest nail color.  (That happens to be Opi’s Moon over Mumbai—a sort of lavender grey—one of those small, yet necessary tidbits I learned when she teased me about my freshly applied ruby red, aptly named After Sex.  I thought that shade would be fun and fresh with my summer togs, but what’s a mountain girl to know anyway?)  So when Jane told me about a planned excursion to Neue Galerie, one of Manhattan’s more recent additions to the arts scene that showcases German and Austrian art, I jumped at the chance to go along.

Our outing was to include Jane’s friend, another very snappy gal from Larchmont, her mother-in-law and Jane’s daughter, a lovely young lady in her mid teens that I later discovered had clearly adopted her mother’s interest in the arts.  Both Jane and her friend looked particularly chic in stylish dresses that would have also worked well for a sophisticated garden party.  (Jane aptly dubbed her cream-colored linen shift very Frieda Callo.)  Standing there in my well cut jean bermudas and colorful, clingy top, I was almost sorry I hadn’t taken it up a notch.  Thank goodness I wore my beautiful, glass beads.

“You look very mountain-like, MB,” Jane observed without an ounce of snootiness.  She tossed me a purple pashmina.  “Here, that’s perfect.  Just the right touch of namasté.  You’ll need it for the museum.”

I had grown accustomed to a life without air conditioning in Colorado and was constantly amazed that the A.C. was cranked so high in other parts of the country.

We chatted excitedly the whole drive into the city.  I learned that women in Larchmont were very possessive about sharing their babysitters’ names and numbers, a seemingly disconcerting matter for Jane and her friend.

“That’s how it is with French women and their recipes,” I explained.  “Most only do a few signature dishes and they don’t like to share their recipes for fear that their spécialités might show up at someone else’s dinner party.”

We all scoffed at that.  “Yes, I was even convinced at one point that one of my former sisters-in-law would deliberately leave out an ingredient or two so that her recipe could not be duplicated.  I would make these cakes that would be total flops,” I trailed off.

Entrance to Galerie Neue

Entrance to Neue Galerie

We laughed and commiserated about about some of the more tedious aspects of life until we pulled up in front of a handsome mansion on the upper east side.  By now we were starved, so we decided to lunch first and look later.  Entering the Café Sabarsky at Neue Galerie was like stepping into  a fine dining room in Vienna.  Dark wood paneling, wooden floors, floral-covered velvet banquettes, little marble café tables and heavy draperies wrapped us in an Old World warmth that we soon realized was more important than ever with the A.C.-induced Arctic chill that blasted us as soon as we walked in the door.  We settled in and began to order coffees and lunch.

Café Sabarsky

The five of us almost hurried through our selections of goulash soup, smoked trout, Weiner Schnitzel and salads in anticipation of the desserts to follow.  (We had already scoped out gorgeous cakes and tortes on the long, marble sideboard on the other side of the room upon entering.)   A rich assortment of treats was later served up with more coffee and in my case, hot chocolate, the perfect accompaniment to an Apfelstrudel on a cold winter’s day.  (Instead of complaining any more about the frosty air, I decided to make it a good excuse for being extra decadent.)

Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase

Finally we were ready to stroll through the exhibition rooms.  We delighted separately, all together and sometimes one-on-one in viewing the many fine works on display here from original furnishings to superbly crafted jewelry.  I paused at great length in front of a glittering painting by Gustav Klimt.  Clearly some of the finest examples of Austrian-German creativity were prominently featured within this nearly six-year old museum.  Neue Galerie is a small gem whose jewel box-like interior is as alluring as the goods inside.  Our hearts had been warmed by all the beauty we took in within this elegant space; our bodies were glad to meet the hot summer air outside.

Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Avenue, 212-628-6200, www.neuegalerie.org

Café Sabarsky is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and for lots of tea, coffee and drinks in between) everyday but Wednesday; 212-288-0665.

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