Culture - Vienna - Travel | Monocle


Secession, Wieden

It was painter Gustav Klimt, one of the founders of the Vienna Secession movement, who quit the conservative Association of Austrian Artists to found a group that had more artistic freedom. Since its construction in 1898 the Secession building has remained not only an art-nouveau architectural wonder – note the golden-leaf orb atop – but also an avant-garde, artist-run exhibition venue. “Artists deal with art differently than museum directors,” says current president Herwig Kempinger. This is the place to discover the creative stars of tomorrow: Austrians such as post-internet sensation Oliver Laric or international mavericks such as UK Turner Prize-winner Mark Leckey exhibit works that you won’t see anywhere else. On permanent view in the basement is Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze”, which in itself is worth a visit.

12 Friedrichstrasse, 1010
+43 (0)1 587 5307

21er Haus, Landstrasse

The 21er Haus is where experimental contemporary art shines under the jurisdiction of the Belvedere – but the venerable venue itself has an interesting architectural history. Originally designed as the Austrian pavilion for the Brussels World Expo in 1958, the boxy glass building was moved to Vienna to act as the 20er Haus (the museum of the 20th century) in the early 1960s and soon became a hub of Austrian avant-garde art. In early 2002 it was given to the Belvedere but the gallery didn’t have the funds to run it properly so the Haus stayed empty for years. From 2008 to 2011, Austrian architect Adolf Krischanitz revamped the building, bringing it into the 21st century and leading it to change its name. Space was added via the construction of a new atrium and the return of the original 1960s porch. In terms of work on display, you’ll find monographic and thematic shows, often by Austrian artists. There’s also a sculpture garden featuring works from the 1950s and 1960s, a cinema and an excellent shop and café.

1 Arsenalstrasse, 1030
+43 (0)1 795 570

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Innere Stadt

Along the stunning Ringstrasse, the grand boulevard that encircles the Innere Stadt, two near-identical neo-Renaissance buildings face each other: one is the Natural History Museum and the other, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, is an 1891 structure erected by Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I to make the Habsburg art holdings accessible to the public. The interior is lavish – as you enter, admire the 60-metre-high dome above the hall – and the collection is a trip through art history. Galleries feature paintings by the likes of Arcimboldo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Rubens, Vermeer and Velázquez; side wings house ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010
+43 (0)1 525 240

Images: Andreas Jakwerth, WienTourismus, Paul Bauer, Christian Stemper, Stefan Fürtbauer

Go back: Vienna


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