Empress Elisabeth of Austria famously avoided photographers as she aged (putting her fan to good use, for example.) The Albertina Modern’s The Face exhibition of contemporary portrait photography has subjects often less camera averse than our shy Habsburg.
- Features the work of numerous top photographers, like Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and Franz Hubmann
- Also includes, for example, photos of renowned musicians and artists
- Runs Jul 27 – Nov 6, 2022
- See also:
- Online tickets* for the Albertina Modern
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
Avedon to Newton
(Gottfried Helnwein; Mick Jagger, London, 1982; gelatin silver print; the ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna)
The Albertina’s new second site allows this art institution to showcase a wider range of treasures from its own enormous collections.
The Face exhibition, for example, puts the focus (ba dum tish!) on contemporary portrait photography.
This includes what we might call a win-win experience: you have photographers of renown, but also subjects who have perhaps left an even greater mark on the world of art and music.
The likes of Eisenhower, Giacometti, Elton John, Keith Haring, Warhol, Lou Reed, Bogart, Sophia Loren, and others find their face (and soul?) exposed to public view.
Nancy Lee Katz observes Roy Lichtenstein at work on one of his large-format creations, for example, while Franz Hubmann (subject of a similarly-themed solo exhibition at the Albertina back in 2021) captures a distracted Marc Chagall as he enters old age.
(Click/tap for ticket options for the Albertina Modern exhibitions)
The acclaimed artist, Gottfried Helnwein, snaps an inscrutable Michael Jackson in the late 1980s. His 1990 Keith Richards captures the guitarist half in shadow, eyes skeptical, cigarette in hand. Perfect.
As those examples reveal, the exhibition includes both Austrian and international photographers.
The titular Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon both feature, of course. The latter famously noted that:
There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.
Newton’s 1993 Verina, Nizza features a model whose challenging self-confidence leaves you confused as to how to perceive the nude subject.
(Nancy Lee Katz; Lichtenstein Roy, 1986; gelatin silver; the ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna; Donation Dr. Michael S. Sachs)
And Avedon’s 1957 portrait of Marilyn Monroe projects an introspective uncertainty that contradicts her more common photographic image.
As well as the portraits of the well-known, the exhibition also presents selected documentary series.
For example, Leo Kandl’s Wine Tavern photos (taken 1977-1984) reveal an earthier side to Viennese life than you see in tourism brochures.
And Lucia Papčová’s shots of her grandparents offer an intimate exposure of the ageing process that sent this 54-year-old writer into thoughtful brooding.
Tickets, dates & tips
Enjoy the photographic portraits from July 27th to November 6th, 2022. An entrance ticket* for the Albertina Modern includes the exhibitions, of course.
Until late August, consider combining a visit to The Face with one to the The Gaze from the Frame exhibition at the Leopold Museum. This draws on the prestigious Klewan collection to present portraits of famous writers through history by renowned photographers and painters.
Vienna has numerous other photo exhibitions to offer at any one time. Personal recommendations include:
- Helmut Newton at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien’s retrospective (from October 19th)
- The Instantly! exhibition at the Wien Museum MUSA, which has intriguing scenes of Viennese street life across the last 100+ years (until October 23rd)
How to get to the exhibition
Just follow the travel tips at the bottom of the main museum page. The Albertina Modern lies just off Karlsplatz square, which includes its own popular photo motif: the Karlskirche (one of the few central churches you can photograph in its entirety without other buildings getting in the way).
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna