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‘Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection’

“Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection,” an exhibition at the Met Breuer organized by Sabine Rewald, provides an opportunity both to linger over some unabashedly erotic works by three modern masters and to explore the life and thought of Scofield Thayer,” writes Jed Perl

“The several dozen drawings of the female nude that Thayer left to the Metropolitan Museum of Art range from some of Gustav Klimt’s and Egon Schiele’s recklessly erotic studies to a group of Picassos in which the neoclassical line suggests not coolness but banked heat. These drawings, especially the Klimts and Schieles, are works that it would be ridiculous to even attempt to treat as if form could be detached from content. When a male artist gives this kind of undivided attention to a female model’s genitalia, critics who speak of the quality of the line risk turning connoisseurship into a joke. But it must be said that what makes it possible, at least some of the time, for Klimt and Schiele to avoid pornographic sentimentalism or sensationalism is precisely the blunt, even knockabout elegance of their lines. The line is what powers these often unnervingly forthright sexual images. Klimt and Schiele perform graphic high-wire acts, which leave me feeling that the artist is, if not anywhere near as exposed as the model, exposed nonetheless. Some similar process is at work in the single painting in the show, Picasso’s early Erotic Scene (1902–1903). Here the young artist is getting a blow job from a long-haired young woman, and the roughhewn painterly informality turns a subject out of an old pornographic postcard into an unforgettable image of youthful self-realization.”

For more information, visit metmuseum.org.

Category: Exhibition
The Met Breuer
945 Madison Avenue,
New York, NY