Vienna Celebrates Female Artists and Recalls Freud


Vienna and the mumok museum moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien (Museum of Modern Art Trust Ludwig Vienna) are spotting – so it seems – German female artists: after the presentation of the work of Isa Genzken (see my Pocket Vienna posted in June 2014).

From Cosima von Bonin’s exhibit.

It is now Cosima von Bonin with her exhibition Hippies use side door. The year 2014 has lost the plot. The injunction Hippies use side door stands at the entrance to Cosima von Bonin’s studio at Cologne….This phrase, which store owners originally used to deter an alternative youth culture in the 1960s, communicates key themes of her work: insecurity, provocation, ambiguity and a sly sense of humor.

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In her exhibition, von Bonin includes works of artists whom she sees as influential, Martin Kippenberg for example, and two American artists: Cady Noland and the late Mike Kelley. This way of curating an exhibition extends the visitor’s view and understanding – and I left the mumok in a bright mood.

The Trust Ludwig was founded by the German couple Peter and Irene Ludwig. Irene Ludwig, the daughter of a chocolate manufacturer, was an art historian, as well as her husband Peter, who enforced the chocolate firm to a German-wide brand. Already in the 1960s they had started to collect art in a professional way – and in 1981 the first donation with 120 works of American and European art was handed over to the Austrian Trust Ludwig. The new building in the Museums Quartier at Vienna was opened in 2001 – with 230 works as donation of the Trust Ludwig, among them artworks of Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter.

A Kreisler Tale

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Elegant hearse at new museum.

“Der Tod, das muss ein Wiener sein, genau wie die Liab eine Französin…” (the death that must be a Wiener, just as the love is a French girl…) these are the first two lines of the chorus of a famous song by Georg Kreisler, an Austrian composer, songwriter and singer. Born in 1922 in Vienna he adopted the American citizenship as an emigrant in 1943. When he had to leave Austria in fear of the Nazis he met a chess player during the crossing: the mobster Bugsy Siegel…a broadly discussed exhibition at the Jewish Museum Vienna in 2003 showed photos of Siegel and his fellow gangsters and portraits painted by Oz Almog, who also curated this exhibition.

It was Georg Kreisler playing the piano in the movie Monsieur Verdoux when Charlie Chaplin was seen at the piano…And Tom Andrew Lehrer once said in an interview: “Georg Kreisler is the Austrian guy who stoled two of my songs.” And Kreisler denied at once: “I don’t want to insist that Lehrer stole my song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park …“

Why do I tell this? Well, to celebrate All Souls’ Day I went to the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) where a new Bestattungsmuseum (Museum of Funeral History) opened on October 13! And the Viennese are said to have a special relationship with death: a good send-off does not merely signify an extrvagant funeral but also means: death is unavoidable…More of it in my next issue!

Viennafair, Freud, and Beyond…

The Viennafair celebrates its tenth birthday – this art market focus on Central and Eastern European art thus finding a proper place between the art events at Basel, CH and Cologne…

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Sigmund Freud died on September 23,1939. To honor the great thinker who established psychoanalysis, the American concept artist Joseph Kosuth, expert in the work of Freud, curated a wonderful installation at the 21er-Haus (House of 21, near the new main station). And similar to the exhibition of von Bonin, he used his own and works of colleagues to form his exhibition.

The question which Joseph Kosuth asked himself–whether “S. Freud had been an artist, an anti-artist or a non-artist”–has been answered by Kosuth in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard:

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Burgtheater’s Bergmann with Ostermayer

“He certainly was not an anti-artist; his point of view was shaped by his lifetime; some of his opinions were rather conservative, I admit. But again and again he broke walls of education and convention. In principle even very wise people are very stupid in regard of art.” And Kosuth continues: “Wise people don’t have to understand that art deals with thinking…really new art doesn’t look like art.”

Not even a week after he had quit his job as chief-conductor of the Vienna State Opera Franz Welser-Möst conducted “his” Cleveland Orchestra at the Vienna Concert Hall: the public gave a frenetic applause.

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And the TV evening news on Tuesday, October 14th, and all Austrian newspapers the following day announced:

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“The first lady director in the swaying tower BurgtheaterKarin Bergmann will be the head of Austria’s most famous theater until 2019. The minister of cultural affairs Josef Ostermayer installed her with applause from all members of the Burgtheater. And he saw that he has done well.