Two predominant names in (Austrian) expressionism duet in graphite, charcoal and watercolours in the Albertina Modern’s Herbert Boeckl – Oskar Kokoschka. A Rivalry exhibition.
- Covers different creative epochs for both artists
- Over 100 works on display
- Focus on drawings and paintings on paper
- Runs Nov 17, 2023 – Mar 17, 2024
- Book Albertina Modern tickets* online
- See also:
A rivalry on paper
(Herbert Boeckl, Self-portrait with blue shirt, 1929, oil on canvas; the ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna – Family Collection Haselsteiner; © Herbert-Boeckl-Nachlass, Wien)
Ah, juxtaposition. A word I rarely used until spending more time in art museums, where it seems to alternate with “dialogue” whenever more than one artist name pops up on the gallery walls.
But an exhibition should be more than the sum of its parts, and the clever curatorial touch can ensure interplay between works and a richer experience for the visitor. Which brings me to the Herbert Boeckl – Oskar Kokoschka exhibition.
These two Austrian artists enjoyed a long and creative life, passing through different artistic periods both in their own work and as experienced in the wider world.
However, both Kokoschka (1886-1989) and Boeckl (1894-1966) remain intimately associated with expressionism: Kokoschka as a well-travelled international great and Boeckl with a more regional impact, creating (mostly) from the turbulence of post-WWI Austria and through to beyond the upheaval of national socialism.
Despite their different paths, both artists served as pioneers and leaders, influencing others through their work and teaching. Boeckl, for example, became rector of the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and home to the renowned paintings gallery).
(Herbert Boeckl, Standing male nude, from behind, 1919, charcoal; the ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna; © Herbert-Boeckl-Nachlass, Wien)
Works on paper form the focus of the exhibition at the Albertina Modern, with drawings and watercolours a key element in both artists’ oeuvre.
The displays take us across the spectrum of possibilities, reflecting different periods, motifs and styles: people, landscapes, still life, etc.. From early pencil and charcoal sketches of the human form to late-period watercolours of nature.
I enjoyed the early-career portraits and nudes by both artists most. Kokoshka’s seem to have an unforced expressiveness to them. Like his 1918 lithograph of Ivar von Lücken, the chalk apparently wielded with casual yet expert skill.
Although a joint exhibition, the juxtapositions seem more complementary rather than inviting in-depth contrast. This is not a lesson in comparative art history.
As such, it is best enjoyed as is. Indulge yourself, for example, with Kokoschka’s flower and animal watercolours or (as I did) with Boeckl’s colourful take on the Erzberg mountain from around 1942.
Dates, tickets & tips
Dip into the works of Kokoschka and Boeckl from November 17th, 2023 to March 17th, 2024. An entrance ticket for or from the Albertina Modern gets you into the special exhibitions.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
Belvedere has a strong collection of both artists, so you should find at least one or two of their works in the permanent exhibition at Upper Belvedere. I also recall spotting Kokoschka in the permanent displays at the Leopold Museum and Albertina, too.
The Albertina Modern has another dialogue going on for much of the same time: Germany – Austria features modern-day artists in cross-border pairings.
If you visit during late November and December, do cross the road and visit the Art Advent Christmas market: Vienna’s best in terms of unique art(s) and crafts. The market spreads out below the Baroque Karlskirche church, itself good for an atmospheric advent concert.
How to get there
Follow the travel tips for the Albertina Modern, easily reached from Karlsplatz subway station in the centre and just a short walk from the old town.
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna