Leopold Museum presents comprehensive exhibition on the oeuvre of Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler

Largest ever Hodler exhibition in Austria illustrates his influence on Vienna Secessionists

Images Exhibition opening

Images Fundraising Dinner

On Thursday, 12th October, the Leopold Museum opened its large-scale autumn exhibition “Ferdinand Hodler. Elective Affinities from Klimt to Schiele”. Speaking during the opening in front of hundreds of guests were the Leopold Museum’s Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger, the designated Swiss Ambassador Walter Haffner and the Minister for Culture Thomas Drozda. Together with the Swiss Federal Councilor Alain Berset, Minister Drozda has assumed the patronage for the presentation, which he believes “marks a milestone of Swiss-Austrian cultural exchange”.

The current presentation is the most comprehensive exhibition in Austria to date on the oeuvre of Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918), the most eminent Swiss artist around 1900. “Studded with masterpieces,” the exhibition features some 100 paintings and more than 50 works on paper from all periods of Hodler’s oeuvre. The exhibits hail from 26 museums, institutions and private collections in Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria, including the Kunsthaus Zürich, the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, the Kunstmuseum Solothurn, the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, the Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal, the UBS Art Collection, the Paris Musée d’Orsay and the Collection Rudolf Staechelin. The presentation curated by the Director of the Leopold Museum Hans-Peter Wipplinger affords comprehensive and exciting insights into the main themes of Hodler’s oeuvre. An additional focus is on the eponymous “elective affinities from Klimt to Schiele” which shine the spotlight on the influence Hodler had on the artists of Viennese Modernism by means of 30 select works by Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Oskar Kokoschka, Albin Egger-Lienz, Emil Orlik and Egon Schiele.

“In October 1903 Ferdinand Hodler formulated the euphoric greeting ‘Vive Vienne. Vive la Secession’ in a postcard to Carl Moll, the painter and co-founder of the Vienna Secession. Viennaafforded Hodler his ultimate international breakthrough,” explained the Leopold Museum’s Director Hans-Peter Wipplinger, continuing, “It was here that he felt ‘celebrated’ and received the recognition he had previously been denied in his own country.”

An exponent of Symbolism and Jugendstil, a pioneer of Expressionism and an innovator of monumental painting, the Swiss painter was an important inspiration to the Vienna Secessionists.

The exhibition starts off with personal objects owned by the artist, such as his palette and painter’s box, as well as numerous documents and a concentrated selection of characteristic self-portraits. These are followed by a group of initially naturalistic, later formally stylized and eventually increasingly abstract landscapes, which are among the most important works of modern landscape painting. The presentation further features a compilation of eminent likenesses, including the portrait of Gertrud Müller (1911), one of the artist’s rare full-length portrait depictions. Hodler’s Symbolist figural compositions are represented with extraordinary examples, including the monumental paintings William Tell (1896/97) and The Truth (1903). Also featuring in the exhibition are works from the harrowing cycle with which the artist accompanied the suffering of his lover Valentine Godé-Darel (1873–1915) in a density unprecedented in art history.

Objects owned by Ferdinand Hodler, many of them from the artist’s estate and placed at the Leopold Museum’s disposal for the duration of the exhibition by the Archive Jura Brüschweiler, afford insights into the life and work of the artist and paint a vivid picture of his times. Also worth mentioning are the numerous historical photographs – for instance by Friedrich Viktor Spitzer (1854–1922) and Gertrud Dübi-Müller (1888–1980) – as well as written documents. Standing out amongst them are the invitation to participate in the 1st exhibition of the Union of Austrian Artists Secession sent by Klimt to Hodler in 1897 and a letter sent by Hodler to Franz Servaes in 1904, in which the artist elucidated his design principle of “parallelism”, which was also adopted by the Vienna Secessionists. This letter only recently surfaced in an antiquarian bookshop in Vienna and was acquired by the Leopold Museum.

The exhibition further features pieces of furniture designed by the co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), which formed part of the interior decoration of the Hodler family’s apartment on Quai du Mont-Blanc in Geneva from 1913.
The presentation “Ferdinand Hodler. Elective Affinities from Klimt to Schiele” is shown from 13th October 2017 to 22nd January 2018 at the Leopold Museum.

Fundraising Dinner

Prior to the official opening, around 350 guests were invited to attend a fundraising dinner on the occasion of the Ferdinand Hodler exhibition by the Leopold Museum’s Directors Hans-Peter Wipplinger and Gabriele Langer, the head of the Board of Patrons of the Leopold Museum, CEO of the Austrian Post Georg Pölzl, as well as the Leopold Museum board member Agnes Husslein-Arco (member of the Board of Patrons).

Attending the gala event were the Leopold Museum board members Elisabeth Leopold and Werner Muhm, the collectors Diethard and Waltraud Leopold, the CEO of the Dorotheum Martin Böhm, the director of Sotheby’s Austria Andrea Jungmann, the newspaper editors Eva and Christoph Dichand, the CEO of the Austrian National Library Johanna Rachinger, the Wien Museum’s director Matti Bunzl, Ralph Gleis (head of the Nationalgalerie Berlin), the lenders director Niklaus Manuel Güdel and Diana Blome (Archive Jura Brüschweiler), the collectors Karlheinz and Agnes Essl, the art historian Susanne Längle, the organizer of the fundraising dinner Karin Kirste (Circle of Patrons, Leopold Museum), the organizer of the Vienna Opera Ball Maria Großbauer, banker Andreas Treichl and his wife, editor-in-chief of the magazine H.O.M.E Desirée Treichl-Stürkgh, the entrepreneurs Almuth and Thomas Bene, Ingrid Flick, Eva-Maria and Christian Höfer, Eugen Otto (Otto Immobilien Group), Gheri Sackler, Gabi and Georg Spiegelfeld (Spiegelfeld Immobilien) and Christiane Wenckheim (Ottakringer), the artists Martha Jungwirth, Brigitte Kowanz, Eva Schlegel, Elfie Semotan, Hans Kupelwieser, Constantin Luser, Hubert Scheibl and Walter Vopava, the former minister and chairman of Sozialbau Josef Ostermayer, the architects Laurids Ortner, Carl Pruscha and Angela Hareiter, the CEO of Niederösterreichische Versicherung Hubert Schultes, the chairman of the board of directors of the Vienna Airport Günther Ofner, the chairmen of the Austrian Post Walter Oblin and Peter Umundum, Gerhard Starsich (CEO Münze Österreich), Ernst Ploil (CEO im Kinsky), Karl-Heinz Strauss (CEO Porr), B&C Industrieholding supervisory board member Hanno Bästlein, Bernhard Mechtler (KPMG), the gallery owners Myriam Charim, Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Elisabeth Sturm-Bednarczyk, Wolfgang Bauer, Michael Haas, Eberhard Kohlbacher and Alois Wienerroither, Herbert and Alexander Giese, Mary Rozell (director of UBS Art Collection), Roberto Lhotka, the president of the Association of Friends of the Leopold Museum Hans Raumauf and his vice-president Leopold Birstinger, the collectors and attorneys Bernhard Hainz (CMS) and Alexander Kottulinsky (IRM-Kotax), the former Leopold Museum board member Alfons Huber, Andreas Plamann (CEO CKV-Group), education expert Andreas Salcher, Klimt Foundation director and chairman Peter Weinhäupl, the curator of the Albertina Markus Kristan, the deputy director of the Kunstforum Wien Evelyn Benesch, and many others.

The music was provided by Rupert Huber, the enchanting flower arrangements by Zweigstelle, and the catering by impacts.


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