Vienna Part 4: Sunday Art Galleries

After an late breakfast (erm call it brunch), M and I found we had a little time to occupy before meeting up with G & Mr.T for further explorations of Vienna. By looking at my tourist map I saw that one of the art galleries on my wish list was sort of round the corner. This was the Secession Hall.

Secession Hall, Vienna

This hall had a number of contemporary exhibits in it including a red and white one which I didn’t have the stomach to look at too closely – it had a certain amount of fur coats and fake blood. What I really went to look at (as well as the external architecture) was the Beethoven Frieze by Klimt. Apparently there was a reproduction of this in the Tate Liverpool but I got to see the original work. I don’t know how it was displayed in Liverpool but here it is shown high up on the walls of a rectangular basement room with a blank space for where there would have been an archway showing a sculpture of Beethoven. Whilst the surroundings could be considered a little stark this in no way detracted from the frieze itself which included plenty of the gold leaf Klimt was known for, this frieze was produced in 1902 at the beginning of his gold phase.

After this we wandered back to our hotel and met up with G who had gone on a long ramble round the city and Mr.T who had a major lie-in. Whilst M and Mr.T decided to go off and play in the Volksprater, G and I departed on a tram for a more cultural afternoon – more art!

Upper Belvederee

The Belverdere Palace was top of our list as I had expressed a preference for managing to see as much Klimt in Vienna as possible and this is after all, the gallery which has the largest collection in the world of Gustav Klimt’s paintings.. Whilst I was worried that a lot of paintings may have been carted off due a “little art show” in Liverpool, I was not to be denied. There was plenty to see the only notable omission (due to its travels to the Tate Liverpool) was “Adam und Eve” which was my only disappointment.

The one work which C would have liked to have seen in Liverpool was also on display in the Upper Belverdere. The Kiss – said to be Gustav Klimt’s most famous work was on display behind its (no doubt) alarmed glass. Unlike some of the famous art galleries in Paris, Florence and London it wasn’t too busy and there was clear and easy access to look at this work close up alongside a number of his other works.

I was particularly taken with a smaller work in the same room “Judith I which was smaller than I imagined but I loved the way the paint was applied for the choker the subject is wearing. I was reminded of this when we made our next visit to another gallery closer to the city centre. Our next visit was picked out by G and she couldn’t have picked a better place – Vienna’s answer to the V&A! – MAK. What made it even better was that the lady at the ticket desk was more interested in chatting on the phone than making us pay for entry. Amongst the many delights to see was the gorgeous and little known of Waerndorfer Frieze by Margaret Macdonald (wife of Rennie Mackintosh. This was a beautiful gesso frieze with wonderful texture in the Glasgow style and had embedded mother of pearl embellishments. It was hanging alongside 3 panels by Klimt the Stoclet Freize (panels 1, 2 & 3). The museum was thoughtfully organised and designed : the galleries of the permanent collections had been designed and arranged by contemporary artists. Parts of the study collection were also on display and of course I had to spend a lot of time looking at the textiles. The current arrangement was organised by the textile curator – picking some her favourite pieces as well those pieces which gave a representation of the variety of the collection there was an Opus Anglicanum chausable and it was quite interesting comparing it to a later European chuasable nearby – I can quite see why it had its reputation for being the finest of its time and for centuries after. My favourite piece though was a pink pleated Fortuny dress and accompanying evening jacket, which was in velvet – the edges of which were embossed and beaded.

A nice extra that was one of the current their exhibitions was a solo show by the Britart artist Julian Opie. Well known for the album cover for the pop band Blur, for which he transformed potraits of the band members into his distinctive style of reducing photographs into figurative reproductions. I found a while ago a mini tutorial on how to do this yourself in Photoshop and was inspired to have a go on photos of M & me.

Not bad, but I think the one of M is better (due to better lighting and not watching the TV at the same time). I don’t think Mr.Opie is losing any sleep.

We then returned to the hotel where we found our boys after an afternoon kitsching it up at the funfair. We decided on a quiet (and much earlier night) so ate locally at the previously mentioned “brew house” (where, coincidently, the original photo for M’s potrait was taken – I cut out the krügel of beer).

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One Comment

  1. Celia says:

    I think you saw more Klimts than I did – and L will be very jealous as he realy likes Judith [I suspect a lot of men do!]

    The Liverpool Beethoven was more or less at eye level, arranged round the entrance space. Stunning close up.

    I want to go to Vienna!

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