Vienna has a lot of art and numerous exhibitions on at any one time. So a one-man operation needs to be selective. Yet I often find myself writing about the exhibitions at the Leopold Museum.
These exhibitions typically focus on the early 20th-century names and movements that mark that remarkable period of creative transition around the turn of the century.
Here you’ll find links to articles on all the exhibitions that tickled my curiosity.
Selected exhibition reviews
One of my favourite event of recent times in Vienna. Amazing featured highlights from the prestigious and private art collection assembled by Reinhold Würth, who gave the Leopold Museum free rein to choose a custom selection of works for the exhibition.
Good choices were made (to say the least). Let me throw a few names at you: Pissarro & Picasso, Munch, Mondrian & Magritte, Kirkeby & Kiefer, Richter, Sisley, Baselitz, Lassnig, Christo & Jeanne-Claude…and many more. Amazing indeed.
Tilla Durieux (2022-2023)
A biographical exhibition for the star actress, pre-Instagram influencer, activist, muse and personality that was Tilla Durieux (1880-1971).
The displays included numerous works of art inspired by Durieux, with numerous artists (including Renoir, Corinth, and Kokoschka) rendering her in paintings, photos, sculptures, and drawings.
A chronological journey through works associated with the Hagenbund artist association, which existed in Vienna for most of the first four decades of the 20th century. An eclectic and progressive bunch deserving a piece of the limelight.
(So progressive that one exhibition managed to get them evicted and banned from their home gallery.)
The Gaze from the Frame (2022)
The paintings and photos in this exhibition delivered a double bill of artistic pleasure.
We had notable portraits of writers from around the world (and history), ranging from Cervantes to Chekhov. And we had equally notable portrait artists, including such names as Picasso or Dalí.
All the works came from the prestigious Klewan collection.
Alfred Kubin (2022)
I described this as an exhibition for our times; the dreamscapes and other imaginings expressed on paper by Kubin (1877-1959) predominately fall into the dark and dystopian categories of art.
The exhibition presented dozens of the artist’s drawings, juxtaposed with works by those who might have inspired him in terms of themes and/or techniques.
The Schedlmayer Collection (2021-2022)
Moving into a house designed by Otto Prutscher sparked a major interest in design, Vienna modernism and similar in Hermi and Fritz Schedlmayer.
The collection the couple put together underpinned an exhibition at the Leopold Museum, allowing us access to works and designs never seen before in public.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (2021-2022)
Not a name typically associated with an art museum, but the Wittgenstein exhibition focused on the philosopher’s interest in and use of photography.
The displays also included dozens of juxtaposed contemporary works from numerous artists, including such luminaries as Sherman, Richter and Warhol.
Josef Pillhofer (2021)
The major retrospective for this renowned Austrian sculptor not only showcased Pillhofer’s creations, but placed them in dialogue with many famous names in modernist sculpture.
Featured works included those by Wotruba, Degas, Rodin, Lehmbruck, Giacometti and Avramidis.
Emil Pirchan (2020-2021)
The name Pirchan may not possess the same resonance as some of Vienna’s more famous modernist artists. But he was another of those universal talents who applied their creative genius to various media and branches of art.
The Emil Pirchan exhibition brought overdue attention to this relatively little known stage and costume designer, author, and illustrator (to name just some of the fields he worked in).
Inspirational Beethoven (2020-2021)
As you no doubt know, Beethoven was no contemporary of Klimt and Schiele. But 2020 brought us the 250th anniversary of his birth and the Leopold Museum joined in the celebrations with the Inspirational Beethoven exhibition.
The core focus was Josef Maria Auchentaller’s representation of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, created for a villa’s music room in the late 19th century.
Hundertwasser – Schiele (2020-2021)
A clash of the titans. Or rather a juxtaposition of two local art icons, showing how Schiele’s life and works influenced and inspired Hundertwasser.
The Hundertwasser – Schiele exhibition featured numerous works by both artists, biographical items and a chance to trace the development of Hundertwasser’s personal style.
German Expressionism (2019-2020)
The museum crossed the border into neighbouring Germany for this wide-ranging look at the expressionist movement of the early 20th century.
The German Expressionism exhibition featured around 120 items from two major collections, swinging its way through such names as Kandinsky, Klee, and Nolde.
Richard Gerstl (2019-2020)
Another in a long line of painters who largely found an appreciative audience posthumously. The Gerstl exhibition showed his works in the context of those who came before him, his peers, and those subsequently influenced by his approach.
Oskar Kokoschka (2019)
Putting together a full retrospective for someone who travelled so extensively (geographically and artistically) offers quite a challenge. But the Leopold Museum responded magnificently with this full-on Kokoschka exhibition.
Over 250 works traced his artistic and physical journey from tormented youth to a man many decades away from the heady days of the Wiener Moderne.
Schiele: Reloaded (2018-2019)
The year 2018 saw the centenary of Schiele’s untimely death from Spanish ‘flu and a special exhibition of his works to commemorate the anniversary.
Schiele: Reloaded took that exhibition and added a contemporary twist by introducing further works by newer artists that built on the themes and motifs used by Schiele.