Exhibitions in 2021 at the Leopold Museum

Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger presents program for the year ahead

The Leopold Museum is embarking on its 20th year with a varied program, including ten exhibitions and the continuation of its cooperation with ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival. Reflecting on the museum’s history since it first opened on 20th September 2001, we can look back on highly successful years but also on the single most challenging period over recent months. Despite all the obstacles occasioned by the corona crisis, however, only two exhibitions had to be postponed from 2020 to 2021, and only one presentation had to be canceled. In keeping with the museum’s intended objectives, the 2021 program will continue to forge a bridge between Austrian and international Modernism and contemporary art.

After the reopening of the museum following the current lockdown, which is scheduled for 10th February, the Leopold Museum will again show its permanent presentation Vienna 1900. Birth of Modernism, comprising 1,300 objects. The graphic works, photographs and archival material featured are exchanged regularly to provide plenty of variety. Additionally, the permanent presentation is extended from time to time with new acquisitions and (permanent) loans. One such new highlight is the Klimt painting The Altar of Dionysus, which was acquired for the museum at the end of last year through a generous donation.

Two exhibitions, which had to be postponed from the summer of 2020 to late autumn, have only been on display for a few days in December 2020. The presentations Emil Pirchan. Visual Revolution as well as Inspirational Beethoven. A Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900, marking the composer’s 250th birthday, will be extended until 6th June. The exhibition of works by nominees for the Ö1 Talent Grant will be shown until 7th March.

As soon as the museum reopens (likely on 10th February), the Director of the Leopold Museum Hans-Peter Wipplinger will present the first new exhibition in 2021, which ties in with the last chapters of the Vienna 1900 presentation. Focusing on Austrian Modernism between 1918 and 1938, the exhibition The Twilight of Humanity. Between Lyrical Sensitivity and Objective World View showcases select works by eleven protagonists of interwar painting, from Egger-Lienz via Faistauer and Kolig to Boeckl and Wacker.

The Body Electric, starting on 16th April, presents the little-known depictions of patients created by Erwin Dominik Osen and his friend and colleague Egon Schiele. From 30th April, a comprehensive exhibition is dedicated to the eminent sculptor Josef Pillhofer. Marking his 100th birthday, Pillhofer’s oeuvre is placed into a dialogue with artists of international Modernism, including Rodin, Maillol, Lehmbruck, Giacometti and Wotruba.

In the summer, we will continue our long-standing cooperation with ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival, originally scheduled for the summer of 2020. The festival’s artistic director Karl Regensburger will present performances and exhibitions by the South Korean visual artist and performer Geumhyung Jeong, the British-American dancer and performer Ruth Childs and the Berlin-based choreographer Emmilou Rößling at the Leopold Museum.

From 10th September, the exhibition The Schedlmayer Collection will allow visitors to discover an eminent, largely unknown compilation of Modernist art, which comprises both artisan craftwork (Prutscher, Moser, Hoffmann) as well as paintings of German Expressionism and Austrian art from the first half of the 20th century. Continuing the museum’s autumn program from 24th September, a presentation on the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s passion for photography places his photographs into a dialogue with the photographic practices and theories of contemporary artists, including Baldessari, Boltanski, Darboven, Polke, Ruff, Sherman, Sieverding and Warhol.

The anniversary year’s program closes with the presentation Kubin on the Couch shown from 19th November. The exhibition seeks to analyze the secrets and traumas hidden within the tortured soul of the great draftsman and author of the novel The Other Side Alfred Kubin. As Hans-Peter Wipplinger explains, the exhibition is the first to attempt an exploration of Kubin’s oneiric worlds, which all too often enter nightmarish-somber spheres, in terms of their relation to the deep dimensions of the psyche and the unconscious. The psychoanalyst and psychiatrist August Ruhs interprets works by the artist selected by Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger from the Leopold Collection’s extensive Kubin compilation.

The 2021 exhibition program in detail

Vienna 1900. Birth of Modernism
Since 16th March 2019
Curator: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
The permanent presentation, which continues to be shown in 2021, affords insights into the diversity of this era’s artistic and intellectual achievements with their cultural, social, political and scientific implications. Based on the collection of the Leopold Museum compiled by Rudolf Leopold, and complemented by numerous loans, the exhibition conveys the atmosphere of the world’s former cultural capital and highlights the sense of departure characterized by contrasts prevalent around 1900. The presentation extends over three floors and features some 1,300 exhibits on more than 3,000 m2 of exhibition space. Spanning the period of around 1870 to 1930, the presentation comprises a singular variety of media, ranging from painting, graphic art, sculpture and photography, via archival material, glass, ceramics, metals, textiles, leather and jewelry, all the way to items of furniture and entire furnishings of apartments. The presentation now also includes the painting The Altar of Dionysus by Gustav Klimt, a work gifted to the museum by private donors in late 2020. Photographs, graphic works and archival material are replaced regularly for conservational reasons, thus allowing for new perspectives.

Ö1 Talent Grant. Exhibition of the Nominees
29th October 2020–7th March 2021
Curators: Philippe Batka, Verena Gamper, Hans-Peter Wipplinger
The talent grant, presented by the Austrian radio station Ö1 with support from the Vienna Insurance Group, is awarded annually to an emerging artist. This year, works by the four nominees are showcased for the first time at the Leopold Museum. Making for a varied exhibition both in terms of themes and media, their works are exemplary for the range and diversity of current art production at Austrian art universities. In 2020 the jury unanimously awarded the Ö1 talent grant, with a prize money of 10,000 €, to Simon Lehner, who studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Ö1’s audience prize went to Sara Lanner, a student at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Along with the works by the two winners, the exhibition also includes creations by the nominees Camille Holowka and Juliana Lindenhofer.

Emil Pirchan. Visual Revolution
8th December 2020–6th June 2021
Curator: Ivan Ristić
The first retrospective of Emil Pirchan’s work in Austria, featuring over 200 exhibits, affords insights into the oeuvre of this artist who rose to fame as a commercial artist and pioneer of Expressionist stage design, and worked in Munich, Berlin, Prague and Vienna as an advertising artist, designer, stage designer, university lecturer, architect, author and book illustrator. Having worked at the Bavarian State Theaters, the eminent film and theater director Leopold Jessner appointed Pirchan to the Berlin State Theaters. “I am hopelessly devoted to the theater, I have lost my brush and pen, heart, mind and hand to it,” Emil Pirchan wrote in a biographical note, and went on to describe himself as “an organist at the surging organ of stage colors, stage lighting and interior decoration”. A reappraisal of Pirchan’s estate by the artist’s grandson Beat Steffan provided the basis for the exhibitions at the Museum Folkwang in Essen and the Leopold Museum.

Inspirational Beethoven. A Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900
8th December 2020–6th June 2021
Curators: Dominik Papst, Werner Telesko
Marking the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in December 2020, this focus exhibition within the permanent Vienna 1900 presentation will be on display until 6th June. It centers on the pictorial program created by Josef Maria Auchentaller for the music salon of the villa belonging to the Viennese jewelry manufacturer Georg Adam Scheid. Consisting of five paintings, measuring almost two-and-a-half meters in height with an overall length of around nine meters, Auchentaller drew inspiration for this work in 1898/99 from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, known as the Pastoral Symphony. The first reconstruction of the music salon in Austria offers a spatial experience of this unique Gesamtkunstwerk – in a dialogue with works by artists of the Vienna Secession, including Klimt, Roller and Hoffmann. The presentation highlights how Beethoven became a source of inspiration and varied point of reference to exponents of Viennese Modernism fighting for renewal and recognition in fin-de-siècle visual arts.

The Twilight of Humanity. Between Lyrical Sensitivity and Objective World View
10th February 2020–5th April 2021
Curator: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
This presentation shines the spotlight on around 100 works created between 1918 and 1938 by eleven eminent exponents of Austrian Modernism: Herbert Boeckl, Hans Böhler, Josef Dobrowsky, Albin Egger-Lienz, Anton Faistauer, Gerhart Frankl, Anton Kolig, Sergius Pauser, Rudolf Wacker, Alfons Walde and Alfred Wickenburg. The traumatic experiences of World War I, the demise of the Habsburg Monarchy and the rise and fall of the first Austrian Republic provided impetus to these artists whose styles ranged from an expressive colorism – with a palette of vividly luminous or dark and earthy colors – to a sober and detached manner of depiction. Still lifes and fairytale-like landscapes reflect escapist tendencies, while social hardships and a skepticism towards life found expression in melancholy subjects. With the sharp-edged, linear style of New Objectivity artists sought to capture the new reality through consolidated shapes and reticent colors.

The Body Electric. Erwin Osen – Egon Schiele
16th April 2021–26th September 2021
Curators: Gemma Blackshaw, Verena Gamper
This presentation is based on depictions of patients by Erwin Osen – a companion and model to Egon Schiele and a co-signatory of the Neukunstgruppe manifesto – which were recently discovered in England and acquired by the museum. The works enrich our understanding of Viennese Modernism and its art practice which was closely linked with the culture of clinical medicine as a patient-oriented practice of medical science. Osen’s portraits of patients at the psychiatric hospital Am Steinhof, created in 1913 and commissioned by the general practitioner Adolf Kronfeld, as well as his portraits executed in 1915 at the 2nd Garrison Hospital under Stefan Jellinek, are juxtaposed with the depictions of pregnant women and newborns Egon Schiele created in 1910 in cooperation with the gynecologist Erwin von Graff at the 2nd Gynecological Hospital. The exhibition addresses questions about the works’ background of creation within the context of a “clinical modernism”, about gaze and objectification.

Josef Pillhofer. In a Dialogue with Modernist Artists
30th April 2021–29th August 2021
Curator: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
Marking his 100th birthday, this presentation is dedicated to Josef Pillhofer, one of the most eminent sculptors and draftsmen of Austrian Modernism. Following his studies under Wotruba at the Vienna Academy, Pillhofer moved to Paris, where he studied with Zadkine at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Working at his teacher’s studio, he explored the Cubist sculptures of Zadkine, Lipchitz, Archipenko and Laurens, and met Richier, Brâncuși and Giacometti. To Pillhofer, “the human connotation with its natural manifestation in the medium of sculpture, was not, and still isn’t, at variance with a credible contemporary intent […] backed up by an open-minded approach and the experiences of Modernism.” In his sculptural oeuvre he sought a formal clarity, brought about by a fragmentation of visible reality, that was meant to convey simple structures from complex phenomena with the utmost sensitivity.

The Schedlmayer Collection. A Discovery
10th September 2021–16th January 2022
Curator: Ivan Ristić
In the autumn, the Leopold Museum will present the largely unknown collection of Fritz and Hermi Schedlmayer for the first time. In 1989, when Hermi (1941-2018) and Fritz Schedlmayer (1939-2013) acquired Villa Rothberger in Baden near Vienna, which in 1912 had been refurbished and furnished by the architect and designer Otto Prutscher, the couple started to compile an eminent collection of arts-and-crafts objects and paintings from the first half of the 20th century. Along with objects and designs by Otto Prutscher, Koloman Moser, Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann, the collection also includes high-quality paintings by exponents of Austrian Modernism and German Expressionism, including Broncia Koller-Pinell, Jean Egger, Franz Wiegele, Anton Faistauer, Karl Hofer, Max Pechstein, Christian Rohlfs and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

Ludwig Wittgenstein. Photography as an Analytical Practice
24th September 2021–23rd January 2022
Curators: Verena Gamper, Gregor Schmoll
This exhibition, which focuses on the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s passion for photography, is the first to highlight his activities as an author, collector and arranger of photographs. The presentation features Wittgenstein’s hitherto unpublished photo album from the 1930s, a composite portrait combining photographs of the philosopher’s sisters and himself, staged self-portraits, photographs of the house designed by Wittgenstein, excerpts from his Nonsense Collection as well as Wittgenstein’s picture postcard correspondence. His works are placed into a dialogue with the photographic practices and theories of contemporary artists, including Baldessari, Bechtold, Boltanski, Darboven, Förg, Goldin, Jürgenssen, Lombardi, Maurer, Polke, Ruff, Sherman, Sieverding, Spiluttini, Warhol, Weibel, Zobernig, and others. Visitors are introduced to the Wittgenstein family’s at times experimental exploration of the medium of photography through a historical-biographical flashback and are invited to use Wittgenstein’s understanding of the medium for a contemporary reappraisal.

Kubin on the Couch. Confessions of a Tortured Soul
19th November 2021–13th February 2022
Curators: August Ruhs, Hans-Peter Wipplinger
The unparalleled art of the draftsman, illustrator and author Alfred Kubin confronts us with pessimistic visions. His mysterious-phantasmagorical oeuvre of highly narrational works provides the basis for this exhibition at the Leopold Museum, which is the first to attempt an exploration of Kubin’s oneiric worlds in terms of their relation to the unconscious and the deep dimensions of the psyche. To this end, the psychoanalyst and psychiatrist August Ruhs interprets works by Kubin which were selected by Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger in keeping with certain themes. Kubin’s dystopian visualizations, which carry on from Symbolism and the fantastical art of the 19th century and may be considered precursors to French Surrealism, are composed of actual and phantasmal reality: a synthesis, in which the uncanniness of these pessimistic constructs is often seasoned with humor, irony and exaggeration.

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