It has been 100 years since the deaths of Gustav Klimt and his protégé, Egon Schiele, yet their popularity, like many 20th century masters, remains strong. It’s no wonder the Met Breuer is exploring their most evocative (and provocative) pieces in a new exhibit, Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection.
Comprised of 50 works from the Met’s Scofield Thayer collection, the show touches upon more than just the nature of nudity. Obsession delves into the details into a greater sense of intimacy between artists and the work they create—and possibly, why we can’t stop looking.
Scofield Thayer himself was a fascinating individual. An American poet who studied at both Harvard and Oxford, he amassed his art collection quickly (between 1921 and 1923), gathering works from London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna—all while he was a patient of Sigmund Freud. He was also the co-publisher and co-editor of the avant-garde literary journal The Dial, making him something of a champion of forward-thinking artisans.
Thayer’s full collection—some 600 pieces—first came to the museum 34 years ago, after he passed away. But it was bequeathed to the institution much earlier (in 1925) after it was poorly received when a portion of it was put on view Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts the year before. “He was a very complex, strange man,” curator Sabine Rewald informed L’Officiel.
By the late 1920s, Thayer ceased working with The Dial and became a recluse. In 1937 he was declared insane. Though his mental health was shaky, his skills as a collector were sharp. During his prolific Vienna shopping spree, he was able to acquire his Klimt and Schiele pieces cheaply.