Friday, July 1, 2011

Barbie, Is That You?

(images courtesy of

The newest additions to the Barbie collection have arrived and thus officially launched the "Barbie Collector Museum Collection." Three masterpieces, one each by Klimt, van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci, have inspired dolls.

The first doll is inspired by Gustav Klimt's 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the second, by Leonardo's 16th century masterpiece, Mona Lisa, and the last was inspired by van Gogh's Starry Night.

We recently viewed Klimt's Adele Bloch-Bauer I, in it's permanent residency at the Neue Gallery in New York. The Barbie version does not do her justice, but is funny considering the hairdo and definitely a new take on the piece.

The Barbie version of Mona Lisa is also entertaining, and a stretch for Barbie. She looks a bit uncomfortable, as she is not used to being so heavily clothed. Since Van Gogh's Starry Night does not feature a woman, it is more of a fashion inspiration. So as far as that Barbie goes, I guess a one-shoulder gown with hints of swirls in blues and creams will have to do? Those shoes...

But back to the first of the new Barbie collection, since it features a piece that we have been thinking about lately. The portrait of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer, which was painted in oil, silver and gold on canvas, has a very storied past. During her lifetime, Adele Bloch-Bauer was a prominent citizen. She was a member of the Jewish-Austrian aristocracy until her death in 1925. When the Nazis invaded, her husband was forced to flee Vienna, and the painting was confiscated along with everything else. From that day on, the painting's ownership was hotly contested for years and years, and was finally regained by a descendant of Adele's.

The 2006 film, The Rape of Europa, chronicles the many lives of this breathtakingly beautiful portrait, along with the countless other pieces of fine art that were casualties of the wars in Europe and the Nazi regime. Ronald Lauder purchase the painting five years ago for $135 million, and it has hung in his gallery at 1048 5th Avenue since. At the time, that was the largest sum ever paid for a painting. If you ever have the chance, go to the Neue Gallery to view this piece, along with their other exhibitions, and be sure to have desert downstairs at Cafe Sabarsky! And just think, for only $34.95 each, we can all own a piece of these masterpieces...

(image courtesy of