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In 2018 Viennese Modernism was celebrated in Vienna in honour of the 100th anniversary of the death of its most important protagonists of the time. Numerous special exhibitions and events paid homage to the lifework of their artists of the century. These included the painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, the architect Otto Wagner and the universal artist Koloman Moser. Even if you were not able to visit these exhibitions last year or even spend a few days in Vienna, today you can still admire Klimt’s famous murals in the impressive staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Even after the great anniversary year, the Leopold Museum still has the largest collection of Schiele's works.
What I am particularly pleased about, however, is the fact that the theme year around Viennese Modernism 2019 is being given "extra time". For while the city of Vienna is actually the largest open-air museum for me and Wagner's magnificent buildings can still be visited in public space, there are also other special exhibitions this year. The focus here is above all on Kolo Moser, who as a "universal artist" was not only a pioneer in the graphic visual and design language of Vienna around 1900, but also had a major influence on the Wiener Werkstätte and even worked for the theatre. What fascinates me even more is that the Belvedere Museum once again places the female artists of this period in the limelight. While last year homage was paid to Emilie Flöge, who was far more than just Klimt's muse, the "City of Women" exhibition features almost 60 Viennese women artists. With their works, whether sculptures or paintings, they all influenced Viennese Modernism and exhibited at eye level with Klimt and Schiele.
At the end of the penultimate century, a community of artists formed in Vienna, culminating in the founding of the Vienna Secession. The aim was artistic freedom, which finally resulted in the development of Viennese Modernism away from traditional historicism.
In 2019, the most important Viennese museums will continue to devote numerous special exhibitions to the artists of Viennese Modernism. The exhibits are mostly from the collection of the respective museum itself or precious international loans. For the first time, the focus will also be on the works of Viennese women artists which lay forgotten in attics and art depots after the Anschluss of 1938.
Otto Wagner is inevitably regarded as Vienna's most important architect in the transition from the historical to the modern means of construction. On the threshold of the 19th to the 20th century, he was the first to place emphasis on architecture which was based on the function, construction and materials of modern life.
In particular Otto Wagner’s unmistakable pavilions, originally built for Vienna’s light railway and today part of the underground lines U4 and U6, are well-known features of the city landscape. Similarly the Postsparkasse (the Austrian Post Savings Bank) or the Kirche am Steinhof are some of Vienna’s significant Art Nouveau works. Tip: take the U4 for a small voyage of discovery!
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