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Weltmuseum Wien presents the most extensive exhibition of modern and contemporary art from Nepal to date. The works on display range from outstanding representatives of the 1950s through to today’s nascent scene of vibrant new artists. As well contributing to an effective resituating of the West’s status within an international context, these works also offer insights into how the local, the national and the global interplay.

This Kunstkammer exhibition brings together for the first time all extant works by the anonymous artist known as the Master of Heiligenkreuz. In 1926, the Kunsthistorisches Museum acquired the seminal work of a painter regarded as one of the most extraordinary and mysterious artists active at the turn of the fifteenth century in Austria: recently restored, the inner panels of the diptych from Cistercian abbey of Heiligenkreuz (in the environs of Vienna) depict, respectively, the Annunciation and the Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine.

The photographer Helmut Wimmer has been working with the Ganymede series in the Kunsthistorisches Museum for many years, producing sensitive and exciting portraits of the authors involved. For GANYMEDE NATURE he has let nature burst into the museum and its galleries. Comprising twelve tableaus, his photographic project The Last Day is inspired by historical facts and natural catastrophes: In the most poetical sense, Nature herself takes centre stage. Earth and water make their way through the galleries. Mountains take possession of the rooms. Leaves and shady groves cover ancient busts. A visual dialogue between two contrary worlds takes spectators on a journey in which violence and anger, memory and accusations are as palpable as pausing to think, and forgiveness. Nature as a space for civilisation and history. The museum competing with the forces of nature.

Kunsthistorisches Museum presents for the first time in Austria an exhibition dedicated to the great American artist, Mark Rothko. Together with his contemporaries, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning, Rothko was one of the Abstract Expressionists, whose works made New York a centre of modern art. Rothko undertook three extensive trips to Europe, visiting as many churches, architectural monuments, and museums as he could. Art and architecture of the recent and more distant past are a vigorous presence in his work. Our exhibition presents an overview of Rothko’s artistic career from the early figurative works of the 1930s to those of the 1940s, and the classical abstract paintings of the 1950s and 1960s that made him famous.

Painting is one of the disciplines encompassed by the Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries of Hermann Nitsch. His approach to this art form is deeply rooted in actionism, performance, and multimediality. Painting represents both the origin and the outcome of Nitsch’s actions. And with the exhibition NITSCH. Spaces of Color, the ALBERTINA Museum now aims to allow Nitsch’s painted works to be perceived not as part of a greater whole, but as paintings in and of themselves for the first time.

Endless House is a work that perfectly typifies the art and theory of Friedrich Kiesler. Its most conspicuous feature is the fact that space is continuously in flow. The body of this unusual architectural model is somehow spherical and yet irregular. The floor, walls and ceilings seem to be made of endless loops. Kiesler made only two full models of Endless House, one of which is held in the New York Whitney Museum.

Christian Kosmas Mayer’s cross-media works and installations are based on detailed research into history and contemporary society. This is undertaken in order to critically reevaluate history and the present by placing evolutionary and natural phenomena into the framework of cultural history and science. Mayer’s work focuses on critical exploration of questions of archiving and conserving as deliberate acts that create history. For his solo exhibition at mumok, Mayer investigates the dynamic relations between living creatures and inanimate objects. The exhibited objects are witnesses of a frozen moment in time, in which mostly schematically distinct concepts of time such as the past, present, and future, or before and after, and life and death, meld into one. This exhibition explores the theme of conservation both as a natural and as an artificial process of archiving. Motifs from Romanticism are confronted with contemporary narratives that draw on today’s insights from the natural sciences.

Porcelain is like a material memory that can endure for centuries. UIi Aigner uses this medium as a starting-point to transform loss into a material message about life and survival. Her monumental porcelain vessel is to be shown in the series Carlone Contemporary in which contemporary artworks are juxtaposed with the Baroque pictorial programme of the Carlone Hall.

Fury, fear, lust – depictions of psychological extremes still exert a fascination on artists and viewers today. But in our “facial society,” what remains a valid form of (self-)portrait beyond the realm of Facebook and selfies? Using Messerschmidt’s famous Character Heads as a springboard, the exhibition at the Orangery takes a head on look at the human face. 

“Everyone’s individual world is made up of troubled facts. My work sits between the idea of reality and its representations.“ (Martine Syms) Martine Syms uses video, performance, text, and installation to address representations of blackness. Her research-based practice frequently references and incorporates theoretical models regarding performed or imposed identities, the power of the gesture, and embedded assumptions concerning gender and race.

Peter Friedl’s multifaceted works are exemplary suggestions and solutions for aesthetic problems regarding our political and historical consciousness. In pursuit of new narrative models, his projects examine both the construction and limitations of representation. The exhibition Teatro at Kunsthalle Wien focuses on a series of recurring themes in Friedl’s œuvre: model, language, history, translation, theatricality. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the film installation Report (2016), which was first presented at documenta 14 (2017). Based on Kafka’s AReport to an Academy Friedl developed a simultaneously complex and cinematographically opulent reflection on the interplay between identity and language, as well as adjustment and autonomy. Works such as The Dramatist (Black Hamlet, Crazy Henry, Giulia, Toussaint)(2013), and Teatro Popular (2016–2017) focus on the topos of theatricality as well but concentrate on the concept of the model. Inspired by traditional forms of puppet theatre, these model arrangements may be interpreted as potential counter-narratives to modernity. This links them to the series of architectural models Rehousing (since 2012), a selection of model houses presenting highly diverse reflections on history, politics, biographies, and ideologies; they are “case studies for a kind of mental geography relating to an alternative strain of modernity”. (Friedl)

Since the 1980s, the Brazilian artist Fernanda Gomes has used ordinary and affordable materials to make objects and bricolages (always untitled) whose formal idiom recalls Arte Povera, minimalism, and Brazilian constructivism. Leftovers and lost, disregarded, or discarded items as well as commonplace objects such as glass, mirrors, magnets, strings, hairs, cigarette butts, newspapers, and old furniture are arranged on the scene of the exhibition, assembled in fragile and precarious constructions or consolidated and corded for more compact creations.

10 Položky

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