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The Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2018 goes to two artists who hail from a cultural sphere that has been riven by a sharp political divide since the end of the Chinese Civil war in 1949: from the People’s Republic of China and the island nation of Taiwan (officially known as the “Republic of China”). The two honorees agreed on the title Keep me close to you for their diverse explorations of current as well as historic forms of the transmission of immaterial goods across both countries’ respective political and ideological boundaries.   Repro: Hui Ye, Quick Code Service, Videostill, 2017/18, Courtesy the artist

In a sketch for a film, Michelangelo Antonioni notes: “The Antarctic glaciers are moving in our direction at a rate of three millimeters per year. Calculate when they’ll reach us. Anticipate, in a film, what will happen.” Metaphorically speaking, to feel cold means to feel deeply alienated. Alienation was already a dominant concern for sociologists around 1900: the alienation of man from society through individualization, alienation from nature through urbanization, alienation from work through mechanization. For philosophers like Theodor W. Adorno, alienation thus turns into a key concept in terms of the role art plays in and for society: Without alienation there is no art, and ultimately it is only art that prevents total alienation. Repro: Installation view: Antarctica. An Exhibition on Alienation, Kunsthalle Wien 2018, Photo: Jorit Aust

The Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu creates complex sculptures, installations, and performances that fuse the animal kingdom with humankind, nature with the artificial, beauty with repulsion, lightness with gravity, life with death. She revives traditional techniques and methods to combine animal bodies and porcelain objects with found (natural) materials such as furs, leather, seashells, wool, or paper in theatrical installations that whisk us off into a world of the fantastic imagination. Repro: Kris Lemsalu, Keys Open Doors, exhibition view Secession 2018, photo: Maximilian Anelli-Monti, Courtesy of the artist and Temnikova & Kasela Gallery

Philipp Timischl’s expansive multimedia installations combine personal notes from the buzz of everyday life with found and self-produced materials to build narrative structures. Balancing between documentation and fiction, between the private and public spheres, they play with intimacy and self- reference. Major themes in his art include the lasting influence of our roots, exclusion, and queerness in relation to social classes as well as the power dynamics between art, artist, and audience. Repro: Philipp Timischl, Artworks For All Age Groups, exhibition view Secession 2018, photo: Maximilian Anelli-Monti, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emanuel Layr

In more than sixty years, Ed Ruscha has built an oeuvre encompassing conceptual photographs, paintings, drawings, artist’s books, prints, and films that chronicle the development of the American West and of Los Angeles in particular in a singular artistic idiom.   Repro nahoře: Pohled do výstavy, Ed Ruscha, OUR FLAG (reverse), 2018, exhibition view Secession 2018, photo: Sophie Thun, Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian

A piece of fabric forms the focus of this exhibition. It is much older than Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Long before the birth of these religions, a headscarf denoted social differences in ancient Mesopotamia – and its absence women’s sexual vulnerability. Today, it lies before us weighed down with countless meanings. And far too often it still represents a man’s word on a woman’s body.

At the beginning of October, the Kunsthistorisches Museum will open the first-ever major monograph show dedicated to the greatest Netherlandish painter of the sixteenth century: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30‒1569). The exhibition commemorates the 450th anniversary of his death.

Helen Levitt (1913–2009) numbers among the foremost exponents of street photography. It was in the 1930s that this passionate observer and chronicler of New York street life first began taking pictures of the inhabitants of poorer neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Harlem. And with her eye for the surreal and for ironic details, she was to spend many further decades immortalizing everyday people in dynamic compositions: children at play, passersby striking a pose, couples conversing. Levitt’s unsentimental pictorial language gives rise to a humorous and theatrical pageant situated beyond any moral or social documentary clichés. The ALBERTINA is featuring this American photographer in a retrospective that brings together around 130 of her iconic works. These range from her early, surrealism-influenced photographs of chalk drawings to her 1941 photos from Mexico and the clandestinely shot portraits of New York subway passengers that Walker Evans encouraged her to do in 1938.    

Claude Monet (1840–1926) stands like no other painter for the impressionist style, and as the French “Master of Light”, he was also a central pioneer of 20th-century painting. He painted by the seaside, at Normandy’s rugged coastal cliffs, and on the banks of the Seine, with the water surfaces in his pictures reflecting the bright, vivid colors of lush vegetation in his summer landscapes and the frozen fog’s mysterious grey and blue in his winter ones. Monet’s light and colors change on the canvas in accordance with nature’s constant transformation, as well as the diversity of atmospheric impressions that the painter gleaned from his motifs—and it was his urge to capture this diversity that moved him to paint many such motifs in series.

An exhibition of the MAK, Vienna and the Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main With their exhibition project SAGMEISTER & WALSH: Beauty, Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh make a visually impressive multimedia plea for us to take delight in beauty. Spreading across the entire MAK, their exhibition investigates why people feel attracted to beauty, how they can deal with it, and which positive effects beauty can have. With the aid of examples from the fields of graphic design, product design, architecture, and city planning, Sagmeister & Walsh demonstrate that beautiful objects, buildings, and strategies are not only more pleasing, but actually more effective, and that form does not merely follow function, but in many cases actually is the function.

Ute Müller, winner of the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize 2018, makes installations that create a dynamic interplay between painting, objects, and architecture, breaking away from stale concepts of the work of art and forms of perception. Walls and plinths are removed from their usual architectural functions as frames and backdrops, themselves becoming motifs that shape both work and its perception, while images and objects recall real everyday matters in spite of their high degree of abstraction. This exhibition leads to a game with allusion. The unframed paintings have overlapping colors that seem to dissolve in the dark backgrounds, whereby they refer to the painted and drawn elements of the wall elements that dynamically reach into the exhibition space. In her works, Ute Müller reflects on the history of the artistic genres and style, and on their extensions and forms of presentation. Her work explores the act of exhibiting images and objects in space as well as sensitizing us for the role of the observer.

David Zink Yi presents his newest ceramic works at the Carlone Contemporary Hall. The anatomically precise, cast tentacles of a dissected octopus will make for an unexpected sight amidst the baroque splendour of the Belvedere. The antecedent violence of dismemberment stands as a symbol for the process of artistic creation and human appropriation.

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