Elsewhere / Places

How We Found Vienna & Happiness In New York’s Spring – Part I

Sigmund Freud, Winona Ryder, Erwin Wurm, Renée Price, Adrian Ghenie and Stefan Sagmeister in the Big Apple …

A Sigmund Freud’s Fruit & Nut Bar – no, a Professor (!) Sigmund Freud’s Fruit & Nut Bar (see photos down under) – on a bench in blossoming Central Park loosens up my subconscious in the search for happiness (focus of Viennafair 2013).

Not Freud, but an Austrian a few streets away from here in the posh Upper East Side ensures me that I will find it: the world famous Lou Reed cover designer, New Yorker by choice, and self-marketing genius Stefan Sagmeister

Sigmund Freud Nut Bar to buy in Jewish Museum's shop

Sigmund Freud Nut Bar to buy in Jewish Museum’s shop

For to become happy, I need only to keep a few “rules” in mind, advises Sagmeister and his new partner Jessica Walsh during our visit to the small exhibition – yet hyped in the US like a huge retrospective – “Six Things” at the Jewish Museum (till August 4, 2013).

First rule: “Keeping a Diary Supports Personal Development”

Okay, I’ll give it a try then, Mr. Sagmeister! My Diary:

A few blocks away from the Jewish Museum I meet with the native Viennese and Upper East Side socialite Renée Price, director of Neue Galerie (interview coming soon). Our meeting point is the gallery’s in-house Viennese Café Sabarsky, which the Austrian New Yorker gourmet guru Kurt Gutenbrunner leads along with four other gastronomy businesses in the city (Wallsé, Café Kristall, Blaue Gans) that serve Austrian cuisine. I don’t have to queue in the long line in front of the café; a corner table is reserved for me. Lovely.

Everything is authentically fake here. Thonet chairs, marble tables, even the famous Adolf Loos knobs on the mirror. While I’m waiting for Price with a Melange and the all-too-familiar odor of goulash infuses the Chanel jackets of the lifted ladies gathering around the neighboring table, I ponder if this might be the only coffee shop in town where one can’t get their goulash and Melange “To Go”.

And here, in the midst of Manhattan, I’m overcome with the feeling that I have already been here. Right. The covers of the bench seats are the same as in Café Tirolerhof opposite Albertina in Vienna. “The design is Wiener Werkstätte and was re-issued on my initiative. We donated it to Tirolerhof,” tells Renée Price. “Café Sabarsky is more authentic than Viennese coffee houses, only the grumpy waiters are missing.”

After our interview and a guided tour through the fantastic collection of Klimt, Schiele, and German Expressionism, side by side with the 132-million Klimt “Adele” – all of it frighteningly real – I take a quick look in the museum bookshop. Stefan Zweig in German, dog toys and iPhone covers in Wiener Werkstätte style. High price. Should I buy myself the Sigmund Freud shades for 385 USD (see photo above) ? Maybe it’ll spot my EGO!? My EGO can wait. First I’ll look for happiness.

What were Sagmeister’s rules again?

– If I Don’t Ask I Won’t Get
– Be More Flexible
– It Is Pretty Much Impossible to Please Everybody
– Now Is Better
– Feel Others Feel

Thank you, Mr. Sagmeister! These tips I’ll better just ignore. Wanna know why? I go downtown. Want to check out the exhibition in the Pace Gallery in Chelsea: “Adrian Ghenie” – the 1977 Romanian-born artist is really called that and he simply IS a “genius”.

The fantastic exhibition was already sold out before the opening. There I see the Austrian bestseller artist Erwin Wurm (undercover with a hipster beard, see photo) scurrying about through the show. Maybe I can get a statement about Vienna? Think about Sagmeister’s Happiness Formula #1: “If I don’t ask I won’t get.” … OK. So simply ask. As I approach Wurm I sense that he is nervous for one reason or another… What was Sagmeister’s Happiness Formula #2: “Feel others feel.” OK, I don’t ask him anything… Duration of Wurm’s stay at Ghenie: an interested 3 minutes 50. Missed Wurm. I’m unhappy for a moment. Happiness Formula #3: “Be more flexible”: I should definitely interview the artist Adrian Ghenie once.

I also have to hurry up. New York days are damn short. In a felt 100 galleries in Chelsea (chelseagallerymap.com) , one a clone of the next, in and out once again. The concept “gallery” needs to be rethought, in my opinion. 2013 theme: Biedermeier – children, animals, flowers.

Was Ryder ever in Vienna?

So much art makes a tired girl. Quick stop in one of the thousand run-down New York nail studios to relax. “Inner Colonialism” – devoted Thai girls at the feet of the well-heeled whites. Beside me Winona Ryder is getting gel nails done; with stricken doe eyes she palavers the Thai girl, who understands neither what she is saying nor that a Hollywood star is seated before her, or let alone what Ryder is on.

Was Ryder ever in Vienna? Actually, I don’t care anyway. Don’t want to take a pic of her, my nail polish needs to dry. Sagmeister’s Happiness Formula #4: “Now is better.” 

Thank you for the great support to our New York blogger Petra Zechmeister!

One thought on “How We Found Vienna & Happiness In New York’s Spring – Part I

  1. Pingback: Viennafair Diary: Happy & Sad – Vienna Stories in New York’s Spring II | The New Contemporary

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