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Three to see

Three to see: New York

From Austrian Expressionism to American abstraction

Richard Gerstl, Mathilde Schönberg (1907) Private Collection

Discover the Austrian Expressionist Richard Gerstl at the Neue Galerie in the first US survey of his work (until 25 September). Through around 55 paintings and works on paper, prominently including his penetrating self-portraits (such as a large painting in which he looks Christ-like), the show tells the compelling and ill-fated story of the artist’s friendships with his frequent patrons and sitters. Among them were Arnold Schönberg and his wife Mathilde—with whom Gerstl had an affair. (After it was discovered, Gerstl committed suicide at age 25.) His small, bucolic landscapes—which are just as compelling as the portraits—are a delightful counterpoint to the intensity of his portraits and biography.

See pre-war works of art by American Abstract Expressionists including Lee Krasner, David Smith and Jackson Pollock at the Washburn Gallery in the exhibition The WPA: Save the NEA (until 28 October). The show presents commissioned works from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA), for which the US government funded vast infrastructure projects. Visitors are immediately confronted by a 17ft-wide painting by Ilya Bolotowsky upon entering the gallery: the artist’s a full-scale re-make (1980) of his 1936 mural for the Williamsburg Housing Project. Also on show is Pollock’s only mosaic (around 1938-41), which was ultimately rejected by the WPA. The gallery’s owner, Joan Washburn, says she chose the title of the show as a reminder that the National Endowment for the Arts is under threat.

Mystical Symbolism: the Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892-97 (until 4 October) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is the first exhibition to focus on this salon founded by the French author and critic Joséphin Péladan. Around 40 works by artists such as Antoine Bourdelle and Ferdinand Hodler demonstrate the varying viewpoints and subject matters that fall within the esoteric, spiritual Symbolist movement. Jean Armand Point’s tempera on wood painting The Annunciation or Ancilla Domini (L’Annonciation) (1895) is directly inspired by quattrocento religious paintings, while the ancient Greek mythological musician, poet and prophet Orpheus, a popular subject among the Symbolists, appears here in multiple works, including a large-format oil painting by Pierre Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, Orpheus in Hades (Orphée) (1897).

Appeared in 293 September 2017, 293 September