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Browse our unique Vienna Art Guide below for all there is to know about Austria’s art and culture capital. During the early 20th century, Vienna was the fifth largest city in the world with a population of 2 million, and no doubt one of Europe’s most cultured hotspots. Once the epicentre of the longstanding Habsburg empire, Vienna is awash with galleries, artists, museums and odes to moments of age-defining culture, and was once called home by the likes of artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, architects like Otto Wagner and Alfred Loos, and composers such as Arnold Schönberg. Each of who helped define Jugendstil (Austrian Art Nouveau), and cemented Vienna’s place in history as a centre of creativity at the time.
Although Vienna lost its spot as a creative capital with the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918, which took the lives of many of the city’s creatives, and the Nazi occupation which drove out several Jewish musicians, artists and patrons, the legacy of that era still remains intact. Now, a new generation of creatives call the city home, once again turning it into a thriving cultural hub. For a taste of the old and new of Vienna art, visit these spaces and see everything from Klimt’s famed Kiss to works by emerging Austrian artists, whose names you’ll want to remember.
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27
Architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt built these two opulent baroque palaces known as The Belvedere to be the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy during the 17th and 18th century.
Now, along with its beautiful gardens, a UNESCO heritage site, the Upper and Lower Belvedere houses the largest collection of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to present, including Klimt’s legendary 1907 painting, The Kiss.
Originally built in 1958 by the Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer as a pavilion for the Universal Exhibition in Brussels, 21er Haus now serves as the exhibition space for The Belvedere’s contemporary art collection.
The space also boasts exhibitions by names like Ai Weiwei, Gehard Richter, and Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, whose quirky performative sculptures are on view there, summer 2017.
When a group of painters, sculptors and architects that included Klimt, Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann grew tired of conforming to the establishment in 1897, they left the Association of Austrian Artists and formed the Vienna Secession. Olbrich designed a structure, which he topped with a gilded dome, and Klimt painted the famed Beethoven Frieze within it, and it became the Secession, a place where the movement could exhibit.
Now it exhibits work by contemporary artists like Nicole Eisenman, Alex Da Corte and Ericka Beckman.
Tucked away within the Volksgarten’s rose garden is the Theseus Temple, a neoclassical structure that was built between 1819 and 1823.
After extensive renovations, curator Jasper Sharp of The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna was tasked with the Temple’s programming, inaugurating it with an exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone there when it reopened in 2012. Los Angeles artist Kathleen Ryan is currently on view with an installation titled Bacchante.
Marx Halle, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19
Want to see a sampling of work from a number of Vienna’s galleries? Each September, around 100 galleries — Carbon 12 (Dubai), Thaddaeus Ropac (Salzburg, Paris and London) and Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna) among them — from around the world head to Vienna for, viennacontemporary, the city’s largest international art fair.
The 2017 edition, which takes place from September 21 to 24, will highlight art from the region and have a section focused on rediscovering the Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde.
Head to the MuseumsQuartier, where over five institutions call the area home, catch outdoor performances, to get your art fix, mingle at its cafés, or relax in the Vienna sun.
Here are three of the museums to visit:
When doctor and art collector Rudolf Leopold passed away in 2010, he left behind a legacy that included more than 5,200 pieces of art that included some of the most coveted works by artists like Schiele. The Leopold Museum welcomes visitors who want to experience Leopold’s love for art.
Head to Mumok for the most forward-thinking exhibitions in Vienna, like the current Fischerspooner show that explores homosexual identity and the Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, which shows off works by Cindy Sherman, Ana Mendieta and the Lynda Benglis’s image of a naked woman with a penis that was an advertisement in Artforum.
Kunsthalle Wien, as its website states, “is a space which comprises the broad diversity of international contemporary art and its related contemporary discourses.” Go there for innovative exhibitions by leading contemporary artists like Camille Henrot, Isa Genzken and Sarah Morris.
For when you artful self arrives in culture capital Vienna, there is no better place to drop your case and pick up your guidebook than in treasure trove of all things art + design, Hotel Altstadt Vienna. An eccentric bohemian in the “SoHo” of Vienna’s 7th district and just on the edge of the MuseumsQuarter, this design den of gallery-esque surroundings offers true Viennese cultural soul, with each room designed by a different patron, including room 67 by Lilli Hollein, director of internationally renowned Vienna Design Week.
Step into a wide world of all things art + culture in our choc-a-bloc Travel Journal, brimming with pieces on Barcelona’s art hubs, Joan Miró’s art studio in Mallorca, the von Bartha gallery near St Moritz, Poland’s cultural treasure and artist of all things subersive, Natalia LL, Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Tuscany and Austria’s second largest city, Salzburg's, very own art walk.