Three years ago, you would have had to drag me to see an exhibition in an art museum. Three months ago, I had just learnt about Dutch Golden Age painters like Hendrick Avercamp, Pieter de Hooch and Aert van der Neer. Three weeks ago, I had not heard of Lucian Freud and was only familiar with his grandfather’s Oedipus complex theory.
I dreaded art classes as a child and I suspect this left me with a long bitter impression – okay, that’s an exaggeration – about art in general. My interest in (European) art was piqued only in recent times, after my move to Europe (home to some of the world’s best art collections) and meeting people who are passionate about art and talk about it in an uncomplicated way. Well, better late than never!
Prior to my recent, and first ever, trip to Vienna, I was almost sure that I wouldn’t like the city. I thought that Vienna is antiquated, overly decorated, boring and with little to hold my interest. After my visit, I stand corrected and am now a fan of its laid-back coffee house culture and impressed by what little I’ve seen of its museums. I still don’t think I can appreciate opera though!
I was in Vienna for work and had only a few hours of free time. With some planning, I went to the excellent Lucian Freud exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Alongside 43 of his works on display were video interviews of him which were interesting to watch to see how he worked and expressed himself in words. It was impressive to see up close the details, brush strokes and colours in his paintings which span almost seven decades from 1943 to 2011, the year he passed away.
The exhibition ends on 6 January 2014. If you need any further convincing to see it if you happen to be in Vienna, this piece in the Financial Times should do the job.
I enjoyed the exhibition so much that I bought a copy of Man with a Blue Scarf by Martin Gayford, who sat for him, so that I could learn more about Freud. I’ve always believed that a portrait tells you as much about the person in the image as it does for the painter him/herself.
While I was at Kunsthistorisches Museum, I also viewed some of its permanent collection of major European art works – which includes Vermeer’s The Art of Painting and Bruegel’s Children’s Games amongst pieces by Titian, Rubens and Rembrandt. Courtesy of the Google Art project, you can easily view some of the museum’s masterpieces here. Below are details from some of the paintings that I like:
I also visited – for free on Tuesday evening – the Museum for Applied Arts (MAK), which carries a relatively small but impressive collection such as Klimt’s nine-part sketch for the Stoclet House mosaic frieze and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh’s gorgeous Seven Princesses gesso panel. I especially enjoyed the works on display in the Secession era room and definitely would like to visit the Secession museum the next time I’m back!
MAK is also hosting a temporary exhibition of Austrian painter and graphic artist, Franz von Zülow‘s, works on paper. All quite vivid and charming.
With all this amazing and inspiring art that the city has to offer – for instance, I can’t wait to also see Egon Schiele’s works at the Leopold Museum – Vienna demands a return visit.