As of now, the Leopold Museum is presenting one hundred select master drawings
from the comprehensive Leopold Collection in the exhibition "LINE & SHAPE"
100 works on paper of the highest quality
Leopold Museum Director Franz Smola and the renowned art historian Fritz Koreny selected one hundred works on paper of the highest quality from the collection gradually acquired by Rudolf Leopold during several decades. Fundamental work was carried out by Birgit Summerauer, who conducted research into some of the lesser known works. Along with highlights of art around 1900, most importantly by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Alfred Kubin, the selection also features rarely shown 20th century works as well as examples of international art, including drawings by Lovis Corinth, Ferdinand Hodler, George Minne, Ernst Barlach and Otto Dix.
Presentation of the collection in a new context
Leopold Museum Managing Director Peter Weinhäupl: “One of the main emphases of current and upcoming exhibitions at the Leopold Museum is to present the collection in a new context. Both the recently opened exhibition “AND YET THERE WAS ART!”, dedicated to the fates of Austrian artists during World War I, as well as the new presentation “LINE & SHAPE” draw on the impressive collection of the Leopold Museum”. Throughout the coming years, Weinhäupl wants to focus on a scientific reappraisal of the collection, presenting the Leopold Museum’s works in all their facets. In 2015 the museum wants to approachEGON SCHIELE in an entirely new way, followed by a first in-depth presentation of non-European art from the Leopold Collection.
According to the exhibition’s curator Franz Smola, the central theme of the presentation is the "fascinating immediacy, the processuality of drawings". Smola: "We can look over the artist’s shoulder". In their various applications as sketches, portrait studies or autonomous works, drawings allow us to marvel at the "technical virtuosity" of the master’s hand.
Klimt, Schiele, Kubin: comprehensive collections
While the exhibition is chronologically structured, it also highlights groups of works by individual artists whose drawings feature most prominently within the collection, for instance Klimt, Schiele and Kubin.
Josef Engelhart’s studies, sinister works by Kubin, designs by the Wiener Werkstätte
The exhibition opens with a virtuosic colored chalk drawing by Josef Engelhart depicting a delicate female nude bending forward. Reminiscent of Degas, it shows influences derived by Engelhart during his stay in Paris. An extensive group is made up of works by Alfred Kubin, who, according to Elisabeth Leopold, "is not by chance associated with psychoanalysis in the museum’s permanent ‘Vienna 1900’ presentation". As an interesting aside, the exhibition also shows design drawings from the Wiener Werkstätte created by its prominent exponents Josef Hoffmann, Kolo Moser and Dagobert Peche.
Best of Austrian draftsmanship from the 1920s and 30s
Featured in the presentation are curious animal studies by Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel as well as Oskar Laske’s delightful "Giraffe Lady", a sketch for a now lost decoration for the Vienna Jörgerbad. The consistently high quality of Austrian drawings throughout the 1920s and 30s, as illustrated by the works of Anton Kolig, Anton Faistauer and Herbert Boeckl, does not cease to amaze. The exhibition also shows Franz Sedlacek’s impressive range by juxtaposing a brilliant mountain study with a contrasting and frightening depiction of a "Grotesque Animal" (1936). Josef Floch’s 1943 drawing of his daughter created in exile in America, meanwhile, moves beholders. The painting based on this drawing was later reworked, the original version being known to us only through black-and-white illustrations.
Art after 1945 and impressive installation by Hannes Mlenek
Art after 1945 is represented, among other examples, with drawings by Hans Fronius (“Basket with Fish”) and an early work on paper by Arnulf Rainer (c. 1950), depicting a "microcosm" in the style of Fantastic Realism created prior to Rainer’s departure towards Abstraction. Abstract works by Oswald Oberhuber, Wolfgang Hollegha and Karl Anton Fleck provide the transition to a work by Hannes Mlenek. The contemporary artist has also adorned the exhibition rooms with an intervention created especially for this presentation and surprises visitors with a monumental installation in the museum’s atrium. Mlenek’s enormous sculptural "Drawing Hand" leads to the mesh of lines that are his "Fragmented Bodies". The artist is delighted to be surrounded by such "great names" and to have been able to comment on the works of his fellow artists. Given the vehemence of his lines, one might believe oneself to be confronted with a contemporary interpretation of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” (Sistine Chapel). Mlenek: "The master’s main tool is not the pencil or the piece of chalk, but the human hand". Or, as Peter Weiermair put it: "Here the line does not end where the arm ends, but where the thought leaves the line".
Line & Shape: information on the exhibition
Shown from the 23rd of May to the 20th of October 2014, the exhibition LINE & SHAPE is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, on Thursdays from 10 am to 9 pm. In September and October the exhibition will be closed on Tuesdays.
A richly illustrated catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition: “LINE & SHAPE. 100 Master Drawings from the Leopold Collection”, edited by Franz Smola and Fritz Koreny, with contributions by Franz Smola, Fritz Koreny and Birgit Summerauer, 216 pages, 150 illustrations, available at the Leopold Museum Shop.
Free guided tours of the exhibition are offered every Saturday at 3 pm. A special tour will be given on Thursday, the 18th of September 2014 at 6 pm by the exhibition’s curator Franz Smola.