Vienna: From Guerrilla Girls to Jasper Johns

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Do women have to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum?

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Guerrilla Girls state their case.

The Guerrilla Girls asked this on one of their famous posters…since 30 years the Guerrilla Girls fulminate against discrimination of female and non-white artists. One of the founders “Frida Kahlo” has given a lecture on invitation of the Akademie der bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) at Vienna.

Do women have to be naked… and indeed, a similar question was lanced by Matthias Dusini, cultural critic, after the exhibition of Cosima von Bonin had closed (look at my October column).

Story continues below.



“She’s got too much space!” was his statement on radio Oe I, the official radio of Austria. He had no problems with other single exhibitions of male artists like Claes Oldenburg, Dan Flavin, who of course had all the room in the Mumok (Museum of Modern Art) at Vienna.

About 180 years ago late Austrian poeta laureatus Franz Grillparzer watched over financial files of the monarchy which filled the wooden shelves of the k. u. k Hofkammerarchiv (archives of the Hofburg Palace) in the public building Johannesgasse 6 in Vienna.

K. u. k. stands for kaiserlich (imperial) und königlich (royal) — in 1804 Emperor Franz II (Francis II), elected Emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire”, created the new title Emperor of Austria to maintain his and his family’s imperial status. This was due to the aggressions by Napoleon I and fearing for the future of the Holy Roman Empire. So – for two years, from 1804 till 1806 – Franz carried two imperial titles being Holy Roman Emperor Franz II and – “von Gottes Gnaden” (by the grace of God) – Emperor Franz I of Austria. In August 1806, after an Austrian-led army had suffered a humiliating defeat by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz 1805, and the constitution of the Confederation of the Rhine he declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved and laid down the Imperial Crown – you may admire that crown at the Treasury of Hofburg Palace. Of course, Franz I of Austria had inherited the list of all titles, among them Apostolic King of Hungary. Therefore since 1804 the Austrian Habsburgs are to be called Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary – kaiserlich und königlich k. u. k. – ending in 1918 when Emperor Karl I resigned.

Going back to Johannesgasse 6: the old wooden shelves of the archives, which have been touched by Franz Grillparzer, and his office are now the stars in a new museum of literature organized and directed by the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library). Doors will open from April 18 – I shall report in my May column.

Rolando Villazón, famous and applauded tenor – who sang a highly regarded Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata at the Salzburg Festival in 2005, has directed Gaetano Donizetti’s Viva la mamma at the Volksoper. Well-behaved applause for the artists. “This is no opera production, but a crime!” is the last line of a review in Der Standard, a serious Austrian newspaper.

PK EDITA GRUBEROVA
Edita Gruberova

7th February 2015: star Edita Gruberova (68) celebrates the 45th anniversary of being on stage; and a month ago she was a brilliant Alaide in Vincenzo Bellini’s La Straniera at the Theater an der Wien…

She stated:

I choose my parts according to the last scene of the opera. For example I studied ‘Maria di Rohan’ by Donizetti – a fine opera, but nothing for me: at the end of the opera only the tenor and the baritone are singing on stage, the female singer just has to listen…nothing for me!”

Congratulations on her anniversary!

Once a hero of American painting in the ’60s: Jasper Johns (85). On his wish, his series Regrets can be visited at the Belvedere, the summer palace of Prinz Eugen. Light is sort of yellowish, no tension between the historic surrounding and the paintings…downbeating, all in all, I regret.

And to end for today: I bought Patricia Lockwood’s Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals…I’ll start to read some of her poems…

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Gerd-Theo Umberg from 2002 served as a professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts at Frankfurt, becoming vice-president in 2006; since 2010 he has been professor emeritus. Previously he worked 36 years in different German theaters. From 1996 to 2004 he was director of the Staatstheater Darmstadt. He lives in Vienna.