We mere mortals get a slice of cake and a nice card. The great Josef Pillhofer (1921-2010) gets an exhibition at the Leopold Museum to honor what would have been his 100th birthday.
- Retrospective of the Austrian sculptor’s works
- Juxtaposed with other modernist sculptures by the likes of Rodin, Degas, and Giacometti
- Runs Jun 18 – Oct 10, 2021
- Just a normal museum entrance ticket required
- See also: : Leopold Museum visitor & ticket info
In sculpture and dialogue
(Josef Pillhofer, Mann mit ausgestrecktem Arm, 1950 © Privatbesitz, Photo: Leopold Museum, Wien/Manfred Thumberger © Bildrecht Wien, 2021)
Austria’s creative achievements may centre on classical music but its web of artistic and intellectual endeavours covers a huge range of media and genres. Literature Nobel prize winners, iconic philosophers, renowned architects, extraordinary painters and, perhaps surprisingly to many visitors, excellent sculptors.
Mention sculpture and Vienna and most people think of the facades on those great historical buildings scattered throughout the centre. Or the monuments to former Emperors. But the city’s more recent history includes many more individuals skilled in metal and stone.
Josef Pillhofer (1921-2010), for example, counts among the most eminent. He was born in Vienna but grew up in the province of Styria where he began his artistic training at the Graz School of Arts and Crafts. Unfortunately, WWII conscription put a hold on his ambitions, though he went on to study at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts until 1950.
A critical moment in Pillhofer’s biography and artistic development was a stay in Paris, sponsored by the French government, where he became intimate with cubist sculpture and met the likes of Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brâncusi.
After his return to Austria, Pillhofer went on to establish a career that would lead him to receive the Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst I. Klasse (one of the highest recognitions awarded for contributions to art and science in the country; fellow recipients include Frank Sinatra and Peter Ustinov).
Pillhofer’s oeuvre includes both non-representational objects as well as depictions of figures. Vienna’s top art museums – for example, the Albertina, Belvedere, and MUMOK – have acquired his works, as have numerous institutions in the UK, USA, Japan, Canada, Germany, and elsewhere.
In the Leopold Museum exhibition, curator Hans-Peter Wipplinger places Pillhofer’s sculptures in dialogue with, for example, those of other prominent proponents of modernist sculpture.
One such proponent is Fritz Wotruba, who actually taught Pillhofer during the latter’s time at the Academy of Fine Arts. Others include the French sculptors Degas, Rodin, Laurens and Maillol, Germany’s Lehmbruck, Switzerland’s Giacometti and the Greek-Austrian Joannis Avramidis. the exhibition includes over 180 individual works.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy the sculptures from June 18th to October 10th, 2021. A ticket* for the Leopold Museum gets you into all their exhibitions, whether temporary or otherwise.
The Leopold Museum often has more than one short-term exhibition on the go at any one time. But the permanent exhibition certainly deserves your attention: an artistic and historical stroll through the creativity and cultural impact of the Wiener Moderne. The displays include numerous works by Klimt, Schiele, and their contemporaries.
How to get to the exhibition
Follow the travel tips at the bottom of the main museum page. You’ll find Pillhofer’s works on level -1.
The exhibition takes place over summer, so you might make use of the opportunity to join the traditional seasonal chill out in the courtyard outside. Various open-air bars offer refreshments, for example, and the now-iconic courtyard furniture provides public seating for those seeking to soak up the sun.
If you’re interested in exploring more of Pillhofer’s output, hire a car* and take a two-hour drive from Vienna down to Neuberg an der Mürz in the Styrian mountains. There you’ll find the Pillhofer Hall of Sculptures.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna