Oskar Stocker’s contemporary paintings of women connected with Mozart’s life and work invite reflection and exploration. The colourful portraits dominate his Mozart and Women exhibition hosted at Mozarthaus Vienna.
- Women portrayed include:
- Family, sponsors, students, and singers
- Figures from the operas
- One room of paintings with further context available via QR code
- A novel contemporary take on a historical subject
- Runs May 11 – Oct 2, 2022 (extended to January 15th, 2023)
- See also:
Constanze, Susanna, and more
(Exhibition view; press photo © Alexander Ch. Wulz)
An astonishing number of kisses are flying about! I see a whole crowd of them. Ha! Ha! I have just caught three — They are delicious… I kiss you millions of times.
So wrote Mozart in a letter to his wife, Constanze, in 1790.
It goes without saying that the composer’s relationship to women goes far beyond matters of love and matrimony, though.
We might use an exploration of these relationships to discover much about the composer and his ability to create memorable female roles in his operas.
Equally, those women close to Mozart were themselves often prominent personalities and talented performers. Yet history has not treated them with anything like the respect it has given Mozart himself. They deserve better.
These concepts underpin Mozart & Women: an exhibition by the artist Oskar Stocker in cooperation with Mozarthaus Vienna (who host the event).
Stocker uses portraits to shine a light on female figures both real and fictional.
So we have paintings of Anna Maria (Mozart’s mother), Martha Elisabeth von Waldstätten (student and sponsor), Marianne Thekla Mozart (cousin and early love), Constanze of course, Nannerl (sister), and Maria Theresia Paradis (student and another musical genius).
Stocker also offers sketches of women familiar to us from Mozart’s operas: both the characters formed on stage and the singers Mozart had in mind when writing roles like the Queen of the Night.
Three things struck me on entering the small room hosting the exhibition.
The first is the lack of accompanying text, which places the focus firmly on the paintings. This teases at the curiosity. Who were these women? How do they relate to Mozart? What’s their story?
QR codes allow you to access information adding biographical and interpretive musical context to the visual portrayals, written by the conductor Sascha Goetzel and cultural historian Andrea Kühbacher.
(I’d particularly recommend learning more about Maria Theresia Paradis.)
Waste cardboard provides the canvas for the portraits, perhaps a comment on women’s treatment as disposable possessions by men? Or the wasteful neglect of women’s history at the hands of society?
(The Mozart family: Nannerl, Wolfgang Amadeus, Anna Maria, Leopold; Johann Nepomuk della Croce (Artist), Eduard Friedrich Leybold (realisation), Höfelich’s Witwe (Printer); 1856; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. W 4594, excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
The second is the startling contemporary nature of the presentation with its stark white walls, bright colours, and a choice of canvas material that moves as the air shifts. This contrasts with the more museal rooms and historical ambience of the wider Mozarthaus.
The third is the expressiveness of the portraits, despite the economy of style.
My favourite is Constanze Mozart, her face seeming to combine fatigue and strength of character with a slight air of disapproval…much as you might glance askance at a photographer you have little time for.
Stocker based his portraits on historical sources, and his love and respect for the music, the wider story beyond the Mozart of myth and legend, and the historical women deserving of more attention shines through in the works.
Tickets, dates & tips
Enjoy a different perspective on Mozart’s world from May 11th to October 2nd, 2022 (update: extended to January 15th, 2022). An entrance ticket for the Mozarthaus includes the Mozart and Women exhibition on Floor 3.
If you’ve been round the Mozarthaus and wish to experience more of the maestro, here a couple of suggestions:
- Attend a Mozart concert (venues catering specifically to the needs of visitors to Vienna).
- Take a day trip to Salzburg (famously home to Mozart’s birthplace and now a museum).
- Walk in Mozart’s footsteps (a guide to key locations around Vienna)
How to get to the Mozarthaus
See the main Mozarthaus article for travel tips. It’s just a few lengths of a double bass from Stephansdom cathedral.
Address: Domgasse 5, 1010 Vienna