A life of incident and influence might be a suitable description for Tilla Durieux: star of stage and screen, anti-Nazi, and model for some of the great artists of the early 20th century. And now centrepiece of a biographical exhibition at the Leopold Museum.
- Explores her life, career, and contemporaries
- Does so through portrayals in various artistic media
- …including paintings, sculptures, photos & drawings
- Runs Oct 14, 2022 – Feb 27, 2023
- See also:
- Leopold Museum visitor info
- Current exhibitions in Vienna
A witness to a century
(Franz von Stuck; Tilla Durieux as Circe, c. 1913 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / loan of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland; photo: bpk/Nationalgalerie, SMB, loan of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland / Jörg P. Anders)
When Tilla Durieux entered this world in 1880, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral was still a year away. She passed on in 1971, having witnessed two world wars, the fall of empires, and the rise and fall of fascism (and even the UK winning the Eurovision Song Contest).
Vienna-born Durieux left her own imprint on history, though, most notably as a renowned actor who graced stages at Europe’s greatest theatres. But she also made her mark in other areas of society.
Durieux fled Nazi rule in Germany, for example, and offered aid and succour to left-leaning politicians and movements throughout much of her life.
The actress also dazzled the art world, with her form and visage commemorated in paintings, sculptures and various other media, many of which we get to see in the Leopold Museum’s Tilla Durieux exhibition.
The exhibition combines art and archive documentation to present a first true biographical exhibition for this scintillating personality. The displays take us on a journey through her life and career, but also explore the social and artistic environment she moved in.
We begin with portraits by her first husband, the painter Eugen Spiro. And end with photos of Durieux as grand old dame of theatre.
(The 1914 Renoir portrait; photo courtesy of the Met)
Fashion fans, in particular, will enjoy the drawings, photos and portraits of Durieux in costume.
A 1903 photo of her as Salome, for example, hints at why this role kickstarted her illustrious career: she makes a far greater impression than a similar photo of Gertrud Eysoldt, with whom she shared the role at the time.
Those that sought to capture her image in oils, bronze and similar included, for example:
- Lovis Corinth (we see his 1908 Tilla Durieux as a Spanish Dancer)
- Oskar Kokoschka (enjoy his portrait from the 1920s)
- Auguste Renoir (admire his 1914 portrait on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York)
Most of the portraits and representations on display share a common characteristic: a woman of strength and control. A star, indeed.
Dates, tickets and tips
Enjoy the life of Tilla Durieux and the art that surrounded it from October 14th, 2022 to February 23rd, 2023. An entrance ticket for the Leopold Museum includes all the exhibitions inside.
To take a step deeper into Durieux’s life, visit one of the more notable venues for her guest performances in Vienna: the Theater in der Josefstadt at Josefstädter Straße 26. She played the part of Vasilisa Karpovna, for example, in a 1938 production there of Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths.
As I write this, today’s programme for the theatre features a play by Ibsen, a playwright whose works Durieux often performed in. Incidentally, the location has other claims to historical fame, not least a role in The Third Man.
For more theatrical history, consider Vienna’s Theater Museum. Their concurrent Austropop exhibition deals with popular music and musicians in Austria across time.
How to get to the exhibition
Follow the travel tips on the main Leopold Museum page. You want Level -2. Start on the left-hand side as you emerge from the lift or stairs for a chronological experience.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna