Egon Schiele at the Neue Galerie

Egon Schiele_Portrait of Dr. Erwin von Graff_1910  schiele self-portrait with arm above head

Up through the holiday weekend, “Egon Schiele: Portraits” at the Neue Galerie was a surprising favorite show of mine last time I was in NYC: surprising because it’s not my era or area of interest. But Schiele’s portraits stand in graphic, psychological counter to the museum’s stunning portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer by Gustav Klimt. Klimt’s ornately decorative mode gives way to a bare, introspective style by Egon Schiele, who looked up to the older artist as both a father figure and a rival who he must supplant, as is appropriate given the theories Freud was elaborating on, also in Vienna, at this time. Room after room of portraits provides insight into Schiele’s interests (people, preferably lean and contorted) and working methods (a traditional command of draftsmanship and anatomy pointedly given over to more expressive lines). Well-worth a look if you have a chance this weekend.

Gustav_Klimt_Portrait of Adele Blauch Bauer




A glut of naked men


Left, Pierre & Gilles, The Death of Adonis, 1999 from The Naked Man exhibition and right, Pierre & Gilles, Vive la France, 2006 from The Nude Man exhibition

This Spring I saw The Nude Man at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, The Naked Man at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, and also an exhibition, Orange Human, featuring male nudes by Slovakian artist Svätopluk Mikyta at Deàk Erika gallery in Budapest. At least for me this Spring, the preponderance of female nudes traditionally shown in art has been fully counterbalanced.


Paul Cezanne, Seated Male Nude (Self-portrait), 1910

The Nude Man dealt with the history of the male nude in art since 1800. The Naked Man concerns itself with contemporary representations of the male body, explored thematically in ways that overlapped with and expanded on The Nude Man exhibition. Some works and artists made appearances in both shows; for example, Katarzyna Kozyra’s video installation The Men’s Bathhouse, filmed surreptitiously here in Budapest, was shown in both places. It was not intentional to have two such similar shows at the same time, so perhaps the coincidence suggests a growing interest in themes and dialectics around the male body.

The Bathhouse, Katarzyna Kozyra, 1997

Still from The Men’s Bathhouse, Katarzyna Kozyra, 1997

The male gaze has been much discussed in terms of the female nude, and these shows present an opportunity to consider how the male gaze treats itself and also how the female gaze looks at the male body. Questioning how female versus male nudes are presented, both exhibitions also featured photographs from Croatian artist Tomislav Gotovac’s 2002 ‘Foxy Mister’ series and works by Gilbert and George.

Installation view of Tomislav Gotovac's 2002 Foxy Mister photography series

Installation view of Tomislav Gotovac’s 2002 Foxy Mister photographs at the Leopold Museum

The exhibition at the Ludwig in Budapest, however, perhaps because it was freed from a linear art historical narrative, could deal more interestingly in a thematic approach with the more complicated relations to the body. Anxiety around the aesthetic of the body–whether in conformity or rebellion, and the freedom and vulnerability of the naked body as well as it’s relation to pain is considered. I found some of the body art difficult to watch. Problematizing the relationship to the male body was American artist Paul McCarthy’s Rocky, a 1976 video where the artist in boxing gloves is hitting himself in the head, which is not far from the Image Whipping photograph of Hungarian artist Tibor Hajas, documenting extreme bound and hung postures, just a room over from a video of one of Stelarc’s body suspension performances, in which his body is hung at different points from multiple meat hooks.

Both these museum exhibitions featured early photography documenting the male nude in an artistic or athletic context: think Eadweard Muybridge‘s explorations of motion in the shot-by-shot documentation of a man ascending a staircase, for example, or two men boxing. These photos often hearken back to an athletic Greco-Roman ideal of the male form that was, in the region, reinforced later as the ideal of strength and beauty in Social Realist style. Svätopluk Mikyta, in the ‘over-drawings’ on view at Deàk Erika Gallery, begins with these innocent, athletic depictions of male nudes taken from antique books. Starting from found images, the artist overdraws, commenting on these naked idyllic male images. This latest series, Orange Human, on one hand puts the perfect man on a pedestal by displaying them and on the other tints their skin from the original black-and-white image to create a new, superhuman race.


From Greco-Roman ideal, to tortured anxiety, to this new Futurist race of male beings, the male body has recently been presented in such varied ways, altogether offering a surprisingly rich counterpoint from the relatively unexplored gender.

An Expanded Take on Film: Cinematic Scope at Georg Kargl, Vienna


The exhibition “Cinematic Scope” at Georg Kargl brings together the work of 6 artists who take a broad view of film, its aesthetics and presentation, in their artistic practice. In the work on view, projectors themselves become part of the medium or hanging flat screens adopt sculptural status. Above and below are installation shots of Wolfgang Ploger’s Texas Loud Texas Proud, where 16 mm film features text of the last words of executed Texas prisoners, illegible as it is projected on the wall but readable on the silkscreened film.


It highlights the mediation of information and the technology used with subject matter that is distinctly different. Rather than as medium, the projectors become important as sculptural objects with the film strips exaggerating this effect by stretching from floor to ceiling.


Tobias Putih’s Pre-projection takes film to its most distinctly sculptural iteration in the show, as it uses an enormous black pyramid to funnel an image onto the curve of a spoon on the gallery floor.

Manuel Knapp uses computer animation to create geometric planes of space which move and overlap to create spaces that seem almost three-dimensional. In this video projected onto the wall of a dark room, “film” as such seems irrelevant. The graphics form a moving sculptural element.


Construction/Dismantling by Andreas Fogarasi centers around a never-realized architectural project, the three films surveying a desolate construction site, a temporary carnival, and the sweeping of a street. The most contemporary and quiet presentation, doing away with calls of attention to the means of presentation, never the less floats the three staggered screens and their content, demanding a consideration of them as objects.