JTI Collection hosted by the Leopold Museum

Selected works on the history of design from the 1920s

On Thursday 18th November, the Leopold Museum opened its exhibition on an interesting but little-known chapter of recent Austrian cultural history. Until 29th February, the presentation entitled “Fleeting Beauty” and carried out in cooperation with JTI Austria will for the first time showcase the diverse results of a design competition held in 1928 by the Austrian Tobacco Monopoly, which invited established as well as emerging artists of the time to design new packaging for its tobacco products.

The opening ceremony saw Hans-Peter Wipplinger, the Leopold Museum’s new Museological Director, welcoming the guests of his new place of activity for the first time. In his speech he referred to the remarkable history of Austrian tobacco production, which dates back to the opening of the first state-run tobacco company in 1722. Following many years of tobacco sniffing, smoking only became a widespread phenomenon during the Thirty Years’ War.

Ralf-Wolfgang Lothert, the Corporate Affairs & Communications Director of JTI Austria, expressed his enthusiasm at cooperating with a museum such as the Leopold Museum that is home to one of the most eminent art collections worldwide.

The exhibition’s curator Sabine Fellner expanded on the historical references found in the JTI Collection, which is one of a kind in terms of its historico-cultural significance. The renowned architect Oswald Haerdtl’s design for the packs of the “Jonny” brand of cigarettes, which he entered into the competition and which was later realized, alludes to Ernst Krenek’s opera “Jonny spielt auf” (Jonny Strikes up the Band). The Asta brand, named after the famous actress Asta Nielsen and featured in the exhibition with its original packet design, was a product created especially for modern women, as it had a red silk tip that made unsightly lipstick stains a thing of the past.

The Curator of the Collection of the Leopold Museum, Franz Smola, sees the current exhibition, which is supplemented by works from the Leopold Collection, as an excellent opportunity to show that the museum houses not only its eminent collection of masterpieces by Schiele and from the era of Vienna around 1900 but that it is also home to works by renowned artists from the interwar period. For Rudolf Leopold was also an avid collector of creations by these artists, which include Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel, Josef Dobrowsky, Albert Paris-Gütersloh and Franz von Zülow, among others.

The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF’s newsreader Nadja Bernhard, who hosted the exhibition opening, expressed her delight at the remarkably high number of women who participated in the 1928 competition, whose designs impressed with their particular ingenuity.

Elisabeth Leopold, member of the board of directors of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation, enjoyed the evening alongside Gabriele Langer, the Leopold Museum’s Managing Director, the cultural journalist Maria Rennhofer, the artist Linde Waber, the journalist Eugen Bentz, the chairman of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum Rudolf Birstinger, the CEO of the company Opinion Leaders Network Paul Leitenmüller and many others.

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