The Albertina remains one of my favourite museums because of the diversity of exhibitions there.
You might find Renaissance etchings in one gallery and a Warhol silkscreen print in the next. And now we have a “second” Albertina location as well: the Albertina Modern with its stronger focus on more contemporary art.
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This archive lists all the Albertina & Albertina Modern exhibitions I’ve reported on in recent years with links to the original articles.
We begin with the main location (or jump down to those at the Albertina Modern).
At the Albertina
(View along the side of the museum)
Gottfried Helnwein (2023/2024)
OK, a lot of artists impress me with their skill. But the Gottfried Helnwein exhibition took my awe to a new level. Putting aside the motifs and metaphors and messages for a moment, the sheer realism of many pieces left me shaking my head in astonishment.
The exhibition showcased various works from recent decades by this renowned Vienna-born creator, often carrying implicit critical (and not always comfortable) commentary and always achieving that lovely label of “thought provoking.”
Michelangelo and Beyond (2023/2024)
The depiction of the nude human form took centre stage in this exhibition, tracing its evolution from the Renaissance to the early 1900s. As the title suggests, the timeline began with Michelangelo’s reinvigoration of the genre through his remarkable talent and return to a more idealised approach.
We then discover how numerous greats of the intervening centuries built on and deviated from Michelangelo’s template. Artists so featured included Raphael, Rembrandt, Dürer, Rubens, Schiele and Klimt.
VALIE EXPORT (2023)
One of Austria’s iconic feminist artists enjoyed a full retrospective. Among the many adjectives used to describe VALIE EXPORT’s work are words like pioneering, provocative, challenging and relevant. All still apply, despite the passing of the decades since she began in the 1960s.
The exhibition took us through a chronology of creativity and commentary that covered installations, drawings, film, photos, and more.
Ofer Lellouche (2023)
Self-portraits and human figures dominated this exhibition for the Israeli contemporary artist. I find them hard to describe (you had to be there).
Suffice to say, the dark-but-not-dark, unreal nature of the representations left a strong impression and invited much analysis.
Georg Baselitz (2023)
The title 100 Drawings offered a large hint at the focus medium of this exhibition, which followed Baselitz’s artistic evolution from the early 1960s to his contemporary work.
With six decades to work with, the drawings allowed a full appreciation both of Baselitz’s pioneering developments and his ability to sit at the interfaces of different approaches.
Gods, Heroes and Traitors (2023)
Works from around 1800 meant a double dip into the past. First to see an exhibition that might well have been held when Albert von Sachsen-Teschen purchased the art for his collection. Second, through the themes and stories portrayed in drawings and watercolours.
Gods, Heroes and Traitors presented top examples of the history genre, with a focus on representations of mythological narratives. But it also explained why “history painting” as such held an exalted place in art for so long.
A special event to mark the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death. The Picasso exhibition took us through various creative eras and themes, each illustrated with works from the in-house archives.
Paintings, lithographs, linocuts, ceramics, and more offered an insightful overview of Picasso’s evolution, allowing us to discover just what made him such a lasting influence on art.
Alex Katz (2023)
A fitting tribute for the artist’s 95th birthday: the Alex Katz exhibition featured paintings, drawings and (particularly) prints from this giant of art and pioneer of “cool painting” (the exhibition’s subtitle).
The works ranged from 1940s subway sketches to charcoal portraits and contemporary woodcuts.
Bruegel and his time (2023)
Another of my favourites: a journey back to the Netherlands of the 1500s and a chance to dive into the blossoming of drawing as an art form. The Bruegel and his Time exhibition featured the man himself, including his wry The Painter and the Buyer (a copy hangs on my office wall).
But Bruegel works only made up a small proportion of the total. We also enjoyed the creativity of such names as Hieronymous Bosch, Hendrick Goltzius, Jan de Beer, Maarten van Heemskerck, and others.
Great Masters of Printmaking (2023)
The 20th anniversary of the reopening of the Albertina saw them showcase some of the masterpieces from their prestigious collections of prints.
The Great Masters of Printmaking exhibition took us from the late middle ages to the early 20th-century. Which meant Masters with a distinctly capital M: Dürer, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Goya, Toulouse-Latrec, Munch, Chagall, Matisse, Kollwitz, and many more. So, yes…wow!
Ruth Baumgarte (2022/2023)
A gorgeous melange of light and colour brightened the central European winter with the Ruth Baumgarte exhibition.
The artist’s African figures and landscapes exuded a vibrancy and dynamism underpinned with a shared humanity. The exhibition also included three works by Athi-Patra Ruga.
Jakob, Franz & Rudolf Alt (2022/2023)
A favourite of mine, featuring three of the great watercolour painters of the 19th century: Jakob Alt and his two sons. (Rudolf – the most talented of the three – eventually became von Alt.)
The Alt exhibition showcased gorgeous renderings of various Habsburg landscapes and townscapes, including many paintings of historical Vienna.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (2022/2023)
A remarkable retrospective full of colour, creativity, and social commentary.
The first major Basquiat exhibition in Austria included numerous significant works by the US artist. And the themes seemed poignantly topical and relevant, despite the passage of time.
Tony Cragg (2022)
One of the year’s highlights that left me open-mouthed, but also cursing my own inability to turn stone and other materials into anything vaguely artistic.
The Tony Cragg exhibition included some 20 of his remarkable and mesmerising abstract sculptures as well as various drawings.
Francesco Clemente (2022)
This solo showcase for one of the greats of contemporary art focused on his self-portraits and travel-themed works.
The Clemente exhibition drew particularly on pieces from the prestigious Jablonka collection that passed to the Albertina in 2019.
The Chobot Collection (2022)
In 2019, Dagmar and Manfred Chobot donated around 800 works of contemporary Austrian art to the Albertina, and the highlights from the collection formed their own special exhibition in the summer of 2022.
The event proved an excellent opportunity to sample pieces by a veritable who’s who of homegrown artists.
Hans Weigand (2022)
Riders in the Storm looked at this notable Austrian artist’s more recent work, featuring paintings and similar with his characteristic mix of the traditional and contemporary in themes and techniques.
The works in the Weigand exhibition also illustrated his regular use of pop culture references, as hinted at in the title.
Edvard Munch (2022)
An event for the times featuring an artist not known for his bonhomie and bright outlook on life.
The Munch exhibition included numerous pieces by this Norwegian great, but in dialogue with works by artists he influenced (such as Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol.)
Michela Ghisetti (2021 – 2022)
The biggest retrospective to date of this Italian artist’s work reflected the themes that pervade Ghisetti’s art, such as the role of women in society or the female soul.
The Ghisetti exhibition brought a bit of overdue and much missed colour into dark times, too.
Paul Flora (2021 – 2022)
This comprehensive retrospective focused on the drawings of this Austrian illustrator and graphic artist in honour of the centenary of his birth.
Flora’s pen and ink carried us on a journey through time from his early efforts pre-WWII through to the new millennium.
Modigliani (2021 – 2022)
Despite all that late 2021 threw at us, we did at least have the pleasure of a fine (and popular) Modigliani exhibition that drew together quality works from around the world.
The event featured a wide range of Modigliani’s output, sometimes juxtaposed with “primitive” art that invited reflection on his style and sources of inspiration. Works by contemporaries like Picasso or Brancusi added another element to the show.
Hubert Scheibl (2021)
The Seeds of Time exhibition showcased around three dozen of Herbert Scheibl’s works, including his remarkable 12m-long Itamaraca.
Schiebl’s interest in nature and living processes struck a distinct chord given the times (he produced many of the displayed works during the pandemic).
American Photography (2021)
The names of those photographers whose works appeared in the American Photography exhibition suffice to let you know the quality on show: Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Alec Soth…and many more.
The exhibition largely focused on the decades that followed WWII, particularly the portrayal of the diversity of US life and society in a more realistic and critical way than in previous eras.
Franz Hubmann (2021)
The many fine photography exhibitions that graced Vienna in 2021 included Franz Hubmann’s portraits of various artists. These photos form part of the Klewan collection.
Many of those artists captured by Hubmann’s fine eye and lens remain indelibly etched in history, culture and the public consciousness: Warhol, Chagall, Picasso, etc.
Jakob Gasteiger (2021)
The Gasteiger exhibition treated us to this renowned Austrian artist’s strong monochromatic paintings and other items from across his oeuvre.
Gasteiger himself once noted that he doesn’t tell stories with his pictures; his single-colour designs, in particular, encourage you to pay more attention to texture and technique, rather than illusory thematic interpretations.
Xenia Hausner (2021)
The full retrospective for this Austrian artist placed a focus on her staging approach, where scenes to paint are put together almost like stage or film sets.
This constructed reality finds its echo in the exhibition title: the True Lies exhibition paid proper tribute to the genius of Hausner, one of those rare contemporary Austria artists whose fame extends far beyond the country’s borders.
City and Countryside (2021)
This exhibition of landscape paintings slotted perfectly into the 2021 experience, drawing on the Albertina’s own archives to offer an escape from COVID cares and restrictions.
The works on display represented almost five centuries of art and showcased the talents of such names as Bruegel, Dürer, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Cézanne, Renoir, Klee and Kubin. Not bad!
Photography exhibitions seemed particularly popular as we emerged from various pandemic lockdowns. The Faces exhibition, for example, looked at the evolution of portrait photography in the Weimar Republic.
This evolution, for example, involved the modern transition away from pure reproduction of the subject to portrait photos as art and as an integral part of the sociocultural context.
My Generation (2020 – 2021)
The exhibition drew on the Jablonka collection to present some of the artistic highlights of the 1980s with a few more contemporary works thrown in for good measure and a focus on US and German artists.
Names like Mike Kelley, Sherrie Levine and Damien Hirst give you an idea of the prestigious scope of the paintings, sculptures, and other works on display.
The Hahnloser Collection (2020)
Swiss collectors Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler put together a quite remarkable selection of paintings, including many from up and coming artists who went on to become rather famous. As such, the couple played an important role in the evolution of Swiss and French modernist art.
The exhibition featured all sorts of related delights, with works from the likes of Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Vallotton, Hodler, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Renaissance etchings (2020)
About 125 etchings took us on a journey through the first decades of this technique, revealing the masters of the art that included such fabled names as Albrecht Dürer, Daniel Hopfer, and Albrecht Altdorfer.
The etchings themselves dated back to the 16th century and were grouped by geographical origin or artist to provide a marvellous overview of this particular aspect of intaglio printmaking.
Michael Horowitz (2020)
Austrian Michael Horowitz is one of those rare folk who manage to achieve excellence in all sorts of fields.
This small exhibition demonstrated his prowess with the camera. The subjects of his photos included many recognisable personalities from Austria and abroad, but also particular events from modern Austrian history.
Warhol to Richter (2020)
This exhibition of contemporary and modern works featured an exciting and eclectic mix of artists.
The collection introduced me to the breathtaking output of Gottfried Helnwein, for example, as well as feeding us all with tidbits of creativity from such giants as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Wilhelm Leibl (2020)
Have to admit I knew little about this 19th-century German realist artist but thoroughly enjoyed discovering his work.
Realist is the key word here – the drawings and paintings portrayed rural life with an honesty and simplicity devoid of fake idealisation. I’m guessing Leibl would not have been a huge fan of today’s instagram influencer culture.
Arnulf Rainer (2019 – 2020)
The retrospective of this contemporary Austrian artist’s work included his famous overpaintings and a thoughtfully-presented display of his crosses.
Such an exhibition illustrates the role the Albertina plays in introducing visitors to the wider world of art. You might come for the Monet and Dürer, but leave having discovered a contemporary genius.
Dürer (2019 – 2020)
Now this was pretty spectacular. Oh my goodness. A very rare opportunity to see Dürer’s works in such number.
We can talk about the utter genius of the man, one of those creative stars who burn brighter than those around them. But all you really need to know is that the exhibition included the Young Hare watercolour.
Maria Lassnig (2019)
Lassnig enjoys an international reputation, but this was my first exposure to the work of this modern painter.
Another retrospective that paid hommage to the wide influence the artist had, particularly through her innovative approach to self-portraiture.
Rubens to Makart (2019)
We can thank the Princes of Liechtenstein for this exhibition, which featured numerous highlights from the princely art collection.
The works included some local stars (like Makart and Waldmüller) but also artists of international fame, such as Rubens, Canaletto, and Arcimboldo.
My first major exhibition at the Albertina and not a bad way to start. A collection of around 100 Monets took us on a journey through the artist’s creative evolution.
The selection included such iconic items as paintings from his Rouen Cathedral, Haystacks, Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge series.
At the Albertina Modern
(Façade of the Künstlerhaus home to the Albertina Modern)
Germany – Austria (2023-2024)
What you might call a cross-border dialogue in art. The museum paired works by German and Austrian artists with some explicit or implicit shared connection.
The mix included many paintings and such prominent names as Georg Baselitz, Maria Lassnig, Gerhard Richter and Arnulf Rainer.
Yoshitoma Nara (2023)
An exhibition with a difference, given the artist himself determined the layout (and the music). All my Little Words mostly featured Nara’s drawings, particular his “Angry Girls”.
The results proved both feisty and thoughtful, in-your-face and nuanced. And, as a special treat, an installation offered a version of Nara’s working environment.
Andy Warhol to Damien Hirst (2023)
The second of two exhibitions celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Albertina’s reopening with highlights from the world of printmaking. While Dürer, Munch, Miró carried us across the centuries from the birth of prints, Andy Warhol to Damien Hirst covered the post-WWII era.
As such, the journey took us through works by the titular artists, but also by local and international names such as Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Kiki Smith, Alex Katz, and Georg Baselitz.
An intriguing exhibition on a topic I was entirely ignorant of (mea culpa). Pictorialism explored the movement to establish photography as an art form in its own right, with a focus on the period around 1900.
The works on display featured both local and international pictorialist efforts, including some iconic photos. For example: Rudolf Koppitz’s 1926 Bewegungsstudie and Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage.
Ways of Freedom (2022-2023)
An exhibition that sent the clouds of a Vienna winter fleeing from a wave of colour and innovation. Ways of Freedom focused on the post-WWII abstract expressionism associated with the New York School.
Treats for the eye and mind included works by Rothko and Pollock, but also those from European artists inspired by the times, like Maria Lassnig and Arnulf Rainer.
Karl Anton Fleck (2022-2023)
Modern art with a local touch: the Karl Anton Fleck exhibition showcased the (mainly) drawings of this Austrian artist. The works drifted from abstract to figurative with surrealist and pop art influences.
Most of the items on display came from the major Chobot collection recently donated to the Albertina.
The Face (2022)
This photo exhibition featured the portrait work of top photographers like Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton, but also intriguing documentary portrait series by local photographers.
A double dose of pleasure came from the subjects of the more international artists; the photos presented in The Face saw many well-known artists, actors, musicians, politicians and others captured by a curious lens.
Ai Weiwei (2022)
The museum blessed us across the summer with the biggest retrospective to date for Weiwei’s art.
The Ai Weiwei exhibition, In Search of Humanity, featured over 140 works and covered over four decades of creative pursuit and humanitarian commentary. Among the highlights: the remarkable golden Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads sculptures.
Gustav Klimt: the Drawings (2022)
A dip into the treasures within the Albertina archive brought out numerous examples of Gustav Klimt’s simpler work.
The exhibition of Klimt’s drawings also included preliminary studies for some of the artist’s best-known pieces, such as the Sonja Knips portrait or the Beethoven frieze.
Egon Schiele and his legacy (2021 – 2022)
This Schiele exhibition placed its focus on self-portraiture and Schiele’s catalytical role in the development of the genre in modern times.
The event included more recent works by those with their own close connection to the self-portrait and its thematic development in recent decades. Think Lassnig, Sherman, and similar.
The 80s (2021 – 2022)
Given the unavailability of an appropriate DeLorean, the Albertina Modern offered the next best thing: a journey back in the time through the medium of art.
The 80s exhibition featured a host of familiar names, such as Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Imagine a pot pourri of modern and contemporary art designed to take you away from the reality of pandemic life and out into the vast potential of the imagination, often with unexpected destinations. That was the Wonderland exhibition.
The works so featured ranged from items of coloured joy to darker abstract works; paintings to sculptures and photos. Names like Warhol and Wurm, Lichtenstein and Lassnig give you an idea of the quality on show.
This huge exhibition of the photos of Nobuyoshi Araki veered intriguingly between, for example, playful representations of Tokyo life and visceral portraits of human (and animal) existence and loss.
Araki’s famous Sentimental Journey series occupied the heart (literally and figuratively) of the works. I was moved.
The Essl Connection (2020 – 2021)
The Albertina Modern’s second exhibition showcased the best of the large Essl Collection of modern and contemporary art that was donated / loaned to the museum in 2018. The acquisition of the collection became one of the driving factors behind the creation of the new site.
The exhibition demonstrated both the quality, depth and variety of the collection’s contents, but also served as a taster for the kind of events we can look forward to from the Albertina’s expansion.
The Beginning (2020)
I didn’t get a chance to go (thanks COVID), but would have liked to see works by such artists as Maria Lassnig, Arnulf Rainer and Friedensreich Hundertwasser.