On Nov 4, 1908, during a age of 25, painter Richard Gerstl committed self-murder in his Vienna studio, both unresolved and stabbing himself. Gerstl’s self-murder was stirred by a find of his event with Mathilde Schönberg by her husband, Arnold Schönberg — a modernist composer and Gerstl’s tighten friend. Before his death, Gerstl broken letters, records and paintings in his studio, though he left in his arise a physique of design that reveals a supernatural and black talent.
The mythology of a passionate, inconstant prodigy, forward of his time, and black in a Nietzschean clarity of hostile a currents of one’s time, pervades Richard Gerstl during Neue Galerie, a artist’s initial US museum retrospective. Organized thematically, a muster includes some-more than half of a roughly 70 works that have been attributed to Gerstl given his rediscovery by Viennese art play Otto Kallir in 1931. The underlying account of talent and tumult and a strength of a work enterprise a doubt of what would have been had he not finished his life.
The answers are various. His fullness and reinterpretation of influences suggests a painter who knew his talents and had a trickery and enterprise to take on new territories of artistic expression. This characterization is upheld by a artist’s few working letters and notes. In a muster catalog he is quoted as observant he is posterior “entirely new paths” and friends and kin endorse his convictions.
Curator Jill Lloyd, a dilettante in Austrian and German Expressionism, reiterates a thesis of a artist’s prevision by exhibiting name works by his contemporaries — many particularly Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and Gustav Klimt — alongside Gerstl’s paintings.
Klimt, whom Gerstl discharged as a multitude painter, frequency sacrificed a worldly beauty of his womanlike sitters for middle emotion. Born in 1890, Schiele (represented in a muster by a 1917 mural of Arnold Schönberg), began to benefit commend a year after Gerstl’s death. Kokoschka, innate in 1886, worked in a same duration of hectic artistic perturbation as Gerstl and was, in some ways, some-more radical. A producer and playwright as good as a painter, his mural “Rudolf Blümner,” from 1910, portrays a sitter as cross-eyed, with prominent, prejudiced hands and a wraithlike physique dissolving into a spatial chasm. Yet Kokoschka’s radical derangements, of his possess physique as good as those of his sitters, are mostly infused with story and noted by theatricality.
Gerstl, on a other hand, comes opposite as fiercely focused on exploring his technique and a amiability of his subjects (including himself in his several self-portraits) with a startlingly complicated miss of affectation.
The full-length “Semi-Nude Self-Portrait,” embellished between 1902 and 1904, while Gerstl was underneath a lean of Symbolist painters such as Ferdinand Hodler, lacks a majority of his after self-portraits. His full frontal pose, his physique wrapped in a cloth from a waist down, evokes a figure of Christ, an outcome heightened by a heat of a sapphire background. But aspects of a artist’s after style, and his contempt for allegory, symbolism, and a Academy, are already apparent: for instance, a uneven brushwork, dappled with light, a volume of aspect area allotted to a credentials and a approach it competes with a design of a artist — who all though disappears in after self-portraits, if not for his trenchant external gaze.
The catalog and wall texts bring outpost Gogh and Munch as vital influences. While outpost Gogh is benefaction in a complexity of Gerstl’s colors — rural palettes in some works, dim earth tones with golden highlights in others — and in his increasingly thick, gestural application, he was equally gladdened to Munch’s expressions of existential angst, eventually pulling illustration to a margin of dissolution.
Madness underpins “Self-Portrait, Laughing,” antiquated summer-autumn 1907. Gerstl portrays himself from a shoulders adult with a far-reaching grin. The slight roughness of his facial features, with one brownish-red and one blue eye (the blue left eye popping out opposite a earth tones), and a pointy slope of his shoulders contributes to a clarity of mania, though a incomparable power lies in a communication between a face and background.
Gerstl fills in a credentials with abrupt, vibrated brushstrokes in an worldly brown-beige that reflects his face and clothing. While a dappled credentials draws courtesy divided from Gerstl’s face, it seems concurrently to catch him, infringing on a edges of his silhouette. It comes opposite as a maelstrom of tone cohering during a core into a person, or, alternately, a chairman in a routine of disintegrating.
Gerstl’s condensation of his theme matter reached an impassioned in his late landscapes, many embellished while he vacationed with a Schönberg family in a city of Gmunden nearby Salzburg. In “Small Landscape during Traunsee” (August 1907), lax swirls of paint clear a blue sky and sprouting immature meadow; a board is bisected plumb by a willowy black line of a tree case forged into a thick pigment. “Landscape Study” (September 1907) is serve abstracted: extended smears of paint, squeezed true from a tube or practical with a palette knife, are roughly mysterious as a landscape adult close.
The following summer, he again vacationed with a Schönbergs in Gmunden. A portrait, “The Schönberg Family” (late Jul 1908), portrays Arnold, Mathilde, and their dual children as pools of paint amid a glass yellow and immature landscape. Gerstl’s character in this and identical works goes over Austrian or German Expressionism, laying a grounds for Abstract Expressionism. Visionary, though recognised from a substructure of outpost Gogh and Impressionism, it exemplifies a artist’s suggestion of grave innovation.
Yet, among his many distinguished works is a partially required illustration of Mathilde Schönberg from a summer of 1907. Rendered in tempera rather than oil, Gerstl portrays Mathilde as dark and expressionless, dressed in a light-yellow-and-ochre kaftan and seated with folded arms in front of a goldenrod wall and blue doors of a Schönbergs’ farmhouse. Here, a artist’s destiny mistress is some-more a blank in a impressive space than a focus.
Gerstl’s self-portraits are equally constrained since he conflates narcissistic self-scrutiny with a clarity of piety and his possess insignificance. Where associate Austrian Expressionists Kokoschka and Schiele, and German counterparts, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, represented themselves by sexuality, machismo or gendered self-performance, Gerstl portrayed himself as slipping away. He is off-center and defaced (“Fragment of a Full-Length Self-Portrait, Laughing,” c. 1904); hidden in shadows (“Self-Portrait in front of a Stove,” winter 1906-1907); and in his final self-portrait, bare and awkward, with a bluish pallor (“Nude Self-Portrait,” Sep 12, 1908).
A tiny self-portrait on a scarcely block board (16 3/8 by 15 3/8 inches), antiquated winter 1907-spring 1908, is some-more unsettling. Described by Kallir in 1931 as “Head, self-portrait, fact of a incomparable painting,” and presumably cut from a full-length portrait, a painting, as Gerstl left it, depicts a artist in grave dress from a tip of his chest up, opposite an olive immature backdrop. Gerstl, in a three-quarter profile, his conduct slanted somewhat downward, glances, covertly or nervously, during a viewer. Too tiny to devour a design craft (his conduct reaches about three-quarters to a tip edge), he seems lilliputian by a space, engulfed by emptiness.
Gerstl’s talent and prophesy are matched in this portrayal by a psychological weight. It feels both claustrophobic and unanchored. It would take a universe fight for his Expressionist peers to display this turn of anxiety.
Richard Gerstl continues during Neue Galerie (1048 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan) by Sep 25.