Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vienna 1900 – The Leopold Collection

Curated by Diethart Leopold and Peter Weinhäupl

Leopold Museum

MuseumsQuartier, Vienna

August 2013

Gustav Klimt, Death and Life, 1910/15 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 630

Gustav Klimt, Death and Life, 1910/15 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 630

This permanent exhibition, it’s at least one with no definite closing date, gives you an extended peek into the artistic and cultural life of the Austrian capital in the early years of the last century.

One can view a fair few instances of Wiener Werkstatte design.  Plenty of furniture, ornaments, jewellry and the like are on display, such as this fine cupboard by Koloman Moser:

    Koloman Moser, Cupboard with Inlaid Figures © Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv.Nr. 4150

Koloman Moser, Cupboard with Inlaid Figures © Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv.Nr. 4150

These beautiful artifacts appear alongside the paintings and other key works of the principal artists of the period; there are rooms devoted to Klimt, Shiele, Gerstl and others.  There is a film traversing old Vienna, showing the architecture of Wagner, Loos and their colleagues.  And there’s a documentary recording of the funeral of Emperor Franz Josef, the latter a kind of elegy for the Habsburg Empire itself.

Egon Shiele’s great self-portrait (the self writ double), Death and Man, graces the room set aside for Psychoanalysis:

    Egon Schiele, »Self-Seer« II (»Death and Man«) © Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv.Nr. 451

Egon Schiele, »Self-Seer« II (»Death and Man«) © Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv.Nr. 451

On one reading, Klimt and Shiele are continually commenting on each others work (compare e.g. The Kiss with Shiele’s Cardinal and Nun) and this work is a counterpart, perhaps, to Klimt’s Death and Life presented above.

Now to mention two of the artist I discovered here.  First, there is Alfred Kubin, who seemed to spend his days producing eerie works like the following:

Alfred Kubin, Into the Unknown © Fondation, Oskar Kokoschka / VBK Wien, 2008, Inv.Nr. 932

Alfred Kubin, Into the Unknown © Fondation, Oskar Kokoschka / VBK Wien, 2008, Inv.Nr. 932

Alfred Kubin, The Horror, c. 1902 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 879, (c) VBK, Vienna 2011

Alfred Kubin, The Horror, c. 1902 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 879, (c) VBK, Vienna 2011

And the second artist is Herbert Boeckl, whose Portrait of Josef von Wertheimstein becomes more haunting and horrific the longer one contemplates it:

Herbert Böckl, Portrait of Josef von Wertheimstein © Herbert Boeckl, Nachlass, Wien, Inv.Nr. 657

Herbert Böckl, Portrait of Josef von Wertheimstein © Herbert Boeckl, Nachlass, Wien, Inv.Nr. 657

Is that a man or a series of bloody bootmarks in the mud?

Vienna 1900 is a fascinating exhibition, extremely informative, bursting with beauty and not a little dread, and richly rewarding.

Further details can be found here.