Every cultural institution takes on the role of being its own cheerleader. Rooting for the home team is an integral factor in keeping on the up and up, both PR-wise and financially. It’s understandable, then, that the Neue Galerie is touting “The Self-Portrait, from Schiele to Beckmann” as “groundbreaking.” Who doesn’t want to be seen at the forefront of culture? The truth, however, is quite the opposite. “From Schiele to Beckmann” is, for the Neue Galerie, standard fare. Given the pivotal role self-portraiture held for the Expressionists—German Expressionism not being the sole purview of the Neue Galerie, but a significant component of it—claims to being “unprecedented” come off as hollow and somewhat defensive. If anything, “From Schiele to Beckmann” finds the Neue Galerie cruising on...


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