Arik Brauer: All of My Arts
Curated by Danielle Spera and Daniela Pscheiden
3 April 2019 – 20 October 2019
Jewish Museum Vienna
At the Jewish Museum Vienna there are two exhibitions, each very different from the other, each in its own unique way compelling.
Arik Brauer: All of My Arts is a survey of the great Austrian artist’s life and work. His paintings are much in evidence. Yes, the Fantastic Realism masterpieces but also, as well, a Bosch pastiche that he completed whilst a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (unlike Hitler, he got in) and a number of coloured drawings he did even earlier, when a child: beautiful, prodigiously accomplished drawings.
You get to hear as well many of his most famous songs. For those unfamiliar with Brauer’s music, imagine Dylan writing not in an American idiom a la Woody Guthrie but in a contemporary update of Johann Nestroy’s Viennese Deutsch. You will have a pretty good sense of why Brauer is admired as a singer-songwriter.
Also in the exhibition there is a chess set , I think though set up wrong (on the board, the white square is not on the right hand side, unless I have read it wrong); a clip from a French film, Les distractions (English title: Trapped by Fear), with Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Parisian cool playing off against Brauer’s passionate song. Another section of the exhibition explores Brauer’s buildings: architecture became an interest for him in his mid-late career. And much else besides.
Arik Brauer: All of My Arts is an exhibition that does full justice to the great artist’s’s fecund creativity.
As it happens, the other exhibition, Café As. The Survival of Simon Wiesenthal, is also about architecture. It is curated by Michaela Vocelka and runs until January 2020.
When Simon Wiesenthal was at the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945, he made friends with a fellow prisoner named Edmund Staniszewski. Staniszewski had an ambition to start a café after the war (if he survived, that is) and Wiesenthal, who had trained as an architect, designed some plans for him. He made sketches and drawings of the premises, its outside and interior, and even thought about staff uniforms. Here is Wiesenthal’s design of a chess room within the cafe. Note the chequered floor and seat coverings, the rook depicted as a tank turret in the painting on the wall, where we see as well a pawn being carried away on a stretcher. No doubt it has been sacrificed for the greater good…
This project was a hinterland for both men, you sense, a shared dream that likely helped them to survive the dire situation that they found themselves in. In planning the future of the Cafe As, they projected themselves into the future and reaffirmed their resolve to survive.
You see a slue of Wiesenthal’s designs in this exhibition, along with letters and photos and other archival materials. It is a valuable contribution to our understanding of this fierce warrior for justice.
Further details of Arik Brauer: All of My Arts can be found here.
Further details of Café As. The Survival of Simon Wiesenthal can be found here.