Watch a play in one of the major theatres of Central Europe a few decades ago and Emil Pirchan might well have designed the set. Or created the poster you passed on the way there. Or written the book you read while waiting at your seat. The new exhibition at the Leopold Museum pays tribute to his talent.
- Diversity of works reflecting Pirchan’s wide range of creative endeavours (posters, illustrations, design models, and more)
- Runs: Dec 8, 2020 – April 5, 2021
- Just a normal entrance ticket or sightseeing pass required
- See also: Leopold Museum visitor & ticket info
A Universal Artist
(Emil Pirchan mit Masken im Atelier, Berlin, 1920 © Sammlung Steffan/Pabst, Photo: Sammlung Steffan/Pabst)
The Leopold Museum is no stranger to what locals would call the Universalgenie, best translated as the Renaissance Man (or woman)…the jack of all trades and master of quite a few, too. Think Wagner and Hoffmann, for example: two of the names in the museum’s marvellous permanent Vienna 1900 exhibition.
Emil Pirchan (1884 – 1957) slips nicely into the same category. If the name feels unfamiliar, that’s because he’s not received the acclaim he perhaps deserves: the eye of history can be a selective one.
Pirchan applied his creative energies to numerous fields: stage design, posters, advertising, books (as illustrator and author), and much more. To understand his impact, consider that his designs graced the most prestigious stages in, for example, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Munich.
The Leopold Museum’s new exhibition seeks to redress the balance somewhat, paying tribute to Pirchan’s achievements and talents.
So you might find his innovative poster designs or an architectural model. A costume design or a book illustration. You can see the sort of thing in this video from Essen’s Museum Folkwang (who cooperated with the Leopold Museum on this new exhibition). The Folkwang exhibition represented a rediscovery of Pirchan’s genius; all thanks to the initiative of his grandson, Beat Steffan (who also features in the video):
Although born in Brno (in modern day Czechia), Pirchan actually had a particular connection to Vienna and the Viennese modernist movement. He was related to Josef Hoffmann, for example, who was himself born an hour’s drive west of Brno. Pirchan studied under Otto Wagner here in the early 1900s. And he spent the last 20 or so years of his life as a professor in Vienna, also authoring publications on Wagner, Hans Makart, and Gustav Klimt.
Dates and tickets
Admire Pirchan’s works from December 8th, 2020 to April 5th, 2021. A normal entrance ticket* to the Leopold Museum gets you into all the exhibitions there. The Vienna Pass gives you one-off free entry, too.
How to get to the exhibition
Check the bottom of the main Leopold Museum article for travel tips.
The museum lives in the MuseumsQuartier, a vibrant (unless you get there before 10am) cultural complex with lots of modern and contemporary art to admire.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna