Place a German next to an Austrian and talk may turn to various subjects. But for a dialogue on painting, try the Albertina Modern’s exhibition.
- Juxtaposes works by German and Austrian painters
- Focus on 1970-2020
- Features numerous modern giants
- …like Baselitz, Lassnig, Richter & Rainer
- Contains c. 85 works
- Runs Sept 6, 2023 – Jan 21, 2024
- Book Albertina Modern tickets* online
- See also:
Painting 1970 to 2020
(Georg Baselitz, Hadendoa, 1972; ALBERTINA, Vienna – The ESSL Collection © Georg Baselitz 2023)
Ah, Germany <-> Austria: a juxtaposition with history.
Friends, enemies, rivals, collaborators.
All the above or none of the above, depending where you are on the European timeline and what part of life you find yourself in.
The visual arts represent one of the more benign relationships between the two neighbours, one coloured by reciprocal influence and exchange. Which brings us to Germany – Austria at the Albertina Modern.
The exhibition presents Austrian and German paintings side-by-side, with a focus on the five decades between 1970 and 2020.
(Maria Lassnig, Krebsangst, 1979, oil on canvas, ALBERTINA, Vienna. Permanent loan from a private Austrian owner © Maria Lassnig Stiftung / Bildrecht, Vienna 2023)
Artistic juxtapositions add comparative harmonies or tensions to the isolated impacts of individual works. Though the effect depends, of course, on the choice of works and artists.
Fortunately, the Albertina was able to draw on notable paintings from within its own prestigious collection of German and Austrian art to create the combinations.
As such, the curators invite us to witness a grand pas de deux where brushes replace ballet shoes, and the dance of art soon leaves notions of nationality behind.
So, for example, in one room we see Georg Baselitz accompanying Maria Lassnig. In another, a tête-à-tête between Gerhard Richter and Arnulf Rainer. A conversation in abstract between Katharina Grosse and Wolfgang Hollegha. Or a lively dialogue between Xenia Hauser and Neo Rauch.
Those dialogues are not described in display text; the viewer bears ultimate responsibility for interpretation (so good luck with that).
(Xenia Hausner, EXILES 3, 2017, Öl auf Papier auf Dibond, ALBERTINA, Vienna – Haselsteiner family collection © Xenia Hausner / Bildrecht Wien, 2023)
Some connections feel explicit, such as the distance and melancholy shared by both Ben Willikens and Eduard Angeli in their works. Or the use of light by both Edgar Knoop and Brigitte Kowanz (lovely to discover her two pieces, as I’d otherwise only seen her installation at the MQ Libelle).
Others compel you to work harder. Fortunately, I dropped in after a visit to the Vienna Coffee Festival and was suitable caffeinated.
Beyond the juxtapositions, Germany – Austria also provides an opportunity to see some intriguing works in their own right.
My personal highlights included, for example, Xenia Hausner’s Exiles series of paintings, which spoke to the nomadic condition, migration, the plight of the refugee and even (to me) the voyeurism of social media and selected 20th-century inhumanities.
And, best of all, the Gelitin collective’s three-dimensional Mona Lisa, which looked like Aardman animations on LSD. Loved ’em.
Dates, tickets & tips
Enjoy the duets on canvas from September 6th, 2023 to January 21st, 2024. An entrance ticket for or from the Albertina Modern includes the exhibitions within.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
A fair few of the featured names appear elsewhere in Vienna for at least some of the time of Germany – Austria. At the time of writing, for example:
- The city had two major Baselitz exhibitions earlier in 2023, and the Albertina’s presentation of his drawings continues provisionally until mid-September of that year.
- Katharina Grosse has an exhibition at the Albertina across winter 2023/2024.
- If you’re quick, you can catch the likes of Richter, Baselitz, and Lassnig at the Amazing exhibition in the Leopold Museum (currently scheduled until September 10th, 2023).
How to get to Germany – Austria
If you travel due west from Vienna for about 250km, you reach the border between the two countries. Simply follow the travel tips over at the main Albertina Modern article.
The museum is central, just off Karlsplatz with its many subway and tram connections.
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna