After enjoying the Egon Schiele exhibit I went upstairs at the Leopold for a special exhibition of the art owned by Heidi Horten. Who? You might say. Well Heidi is a billionaire following her marriage to the much older Herr Horten who owned one of the biggest department stores in Austria. When he died she inherited his wealth – she is a billionaire – and invested some of the money into an impressive art collection some of which was on show at the Leopold. As you will see from the artists below she had a fair bit of cash to spend and I think acquired a lot of the art in one go from London auctioneers.
A selection of Chagall, Magritte, Matisse and Freud.
And then a sprinkling of Picasso’s, Warhol and Nara
One of the great things about my visits to Germany and Austria has been the access to more artists from this part of the world. Below is Marc (the deer)| and then a few years later Roy Lichtenstein does a homage to his work in his own style. Below are Pechstein and Jawlensky – I love these works
I’ve been saving the Leopold Art Museum to last. It is in the museum quarter (a very funky area in central Vienna) and is known for its Klimpt paintings but more especially they have an extensive Egon Schiele exhibit on at the moment.
Well this guy had a short but complicated life. He “lived in sin” with Wally, his model muse and girlfriend (who even stood by him when he was charged with molesting children – charges later dropped but he had a few days in custody due to content of his paintings). Then after four years (when of course she being the female was ostracised by society more than he was for their lifestyle) he upped and married Edith who he felt came from a more bourgeois and appropriate background for him to marry in! Anyway it ended badly for all of them. Wally joined the nurses in WW1 and was killed; his wife Edith became pregnant in 1918 but at six months in she contracted the Spanish flu and died and then he caught it and died three days later on what was the day of her funeral. He was just 28.
Looking at this art – which is tortured, dramatic, suggestive, brutal and painful it seems that he must have had some prescience that he would have a short life. He was certainly prolific during his lifetime.
Anyway – first the master of the selfie – way ahead of his time. He liked painting himself!
He had a complex relationship with his mother and also always believed death was in the close background during all our lives as you can see below.
Aside from mothers and death he was – of course – obsessed with Sex and nudity
And just when you think you’ve figured him out he produces some really pleasing pictures of the town Cesky Krumlov – a place he went to often as his mother was born there and also a place I visited back in April this year when I was in the Czech Republic.
It is not widely appreciated but Austria produces some very nice wines – and in the Wachau Region – which is less than an hour from downtown Vienna – they specialize in Grüner Veltleiner – which I have certainly developed a taste for since I arrived in Austria a week ago. Just before I left Australia I was they were producing local grüner veltleiner in Victoria so it is deservedly getting more popular.
Klaudia’s friend Burgi kindly drove us down (but as an alternative we could have got a boat down the Danube too) and we had a lovely overnight stay in a lovely hotel (the Wein Spitz) in a tiny village called Spitz and inbetween drinking wine in heurigens (kind of a smaller wine garden equivalent of a beer garden and found all over the place in these parts of Austria) we visited the small town of Dürnstein which once hosted (actually put in goal) Richard III of England – also known as Richard The Lionheart to his buddies – apparently he didn’t want to pay the local taxes!
We all had a fun and relaxing time as this area is so peaceful and pretty.
In between visiting local spots around the city I have also enjoyed my time in Vienna – especially as I had never been before. It has been great staying with a local so that I can see it through her eyes and get to places I might not have visited otherwise. Even though there were a lot of people I did enjoy the Schönbrunn Palace
Vienna is full of impressive buildings so walking around the city and taking the open top bus tour – yes I have to admit I like those was a good way of seeing things like the Opera House, Hofburg Palace, Stephan Dome, Hotel Sacher and other well known spots. It is not uncommon to come across people playing classical music all over the city
Graz is a 2.5 hour drive from Vienna and is the second largest town in Austria. It has a nice feel to it – compact and easy to get around. A clock tower plus a plentitude to red roofs made it a charming day trip. Also quite interesting tunnels under the town. My friend Klaudia’s nephew Bernhardt works there and kindly gave us a walking tour when we visited. It was a bit wet but we still had fun.
And check out the apple strudel and REAL whipped cream. No spray cans here:)
I thought I might have been Museumed out in Munich but then I realised what amazing ones there are in Vienna – so a long day one was spent at the Lower and Upper Belvedere and then the Albertina.
The lower and Upper Belvedere were former imperial palaces so cover a vast area with pretty gardens separating the two main buildings and they have impressive interiors including the state rooms.
However it is the art collections that most people want to see at the Belvedere especially the Klimt paintings (including The Kiss) and also the works of Egon Schieler. Here are some samples of the Klimt paintings
Then on to the Albertina which is the main 19th and 20th century art gallery. Excellent collection of a wide variety of well known favourites. Unusual to find a portrait of a chef by Monet though!
Had to kick start my energy levels with a stop at the Hotel Sacher cafe for a piece of their extremely well known cake with whipped cream of course!
And then dinner at a local restaurant with my friend Klaudia who is kindly hosting me while I am here