These four protagonists played a leading role in making the fin de siècle period such an important time for art in Vienna and Austria. And 2018 marks a sad milestone for each of them: they all died 100 years ago. All this year Vienna is showcasing the creative output of these and other exceptional artists working in the “Wiener Moderne” era.

The period between 1890 and 1918 was a crucial phase in Austrian history. The dual monarchy of the Habsburg-led Austro-Hungarian Empire swung between beauty and the abyss. Countless new developments in art, literature, architecture, psychology, philosophy and wider society were shaped by the “Wiener Moderne” or Viennese Modernism.

Artists were at the vanguard. Their works shook up the ossifying Habsburg monarchy and came to terms with the failure of liberal politics after the catastrophic stock exchange crash of 1873. The outcome was revolutionary thinking in all areas of life. Until the cruelties of the First World War stalked the earth – the first watershed moment. The second came with the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.

Viennese Modernism

Klimt’s portraits of women, Schiele’s unflinching self-portraits, Wagner’s ideas for a modern capital, Moser’s designs, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone music, Gustav Mahler’s modern symphonies (both composers are given prominence at the House of Music), Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (he also designed many features of the Wittgenstein House in Vienna) and Arthur Schnitzler’s “landscapes of the soul” were just some of the most important accomplishments of the age.

Vienna was dominated by an abundance of the new. In the capital’s coffeehouses – chief among them Café Museum, Café Central and Café Griensteidl – writers such as Karl Kraus and Peter Altenberg debated with fellow intellectuals and artists. Architects such as Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann and Joseph-Maria Olbrich constructed buildings that marked a bold departure from the historicist Ringstrasse style and incorporated new materials.

Artists, politicians and scientists discussed the issues of the day in salons run by Jewish salonières from the burgeoning upper-middle classes. In fact, there was a palpable move towards a greater role for women: Alma Mahler-Werfel, Rosa Mayreder, Grete Wiesenthal, Lina Loos, Gina Kaus and Berta Zuckerkandl were just some of the leading figures at a time when Vienna was the intellectual centre of the world. By 1910 the capital’s population had grown to two million.

Urbanist and graphic designer

It was in this hotbed of creativity and amongst a ferment of change that Klimt, Schiele, Wagner and Moser reached their artistic peak. The oldest, Otto Wagner, incorporated the spirit of the times, bringing together entrepreneurialism, urban planning and design. In today’s parlance he was a designer, urbanist and developer. He believed that functional objects required no more and no less design than was required for them to be of effective use.

At the same time, he came up with an entirely new formal language that reflected the dynamism of the city and its underlying faith in progress. Leading examples include his Stadtbahn commuter railway project (now the U4 and U6 subway lines) and regulating the course of the city’s rivers. Wagner not only shaped the face of the city – as a professor of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts he influenced several generations of students.

Koloman Moser, on the other hand, was what we would today call a graphic designer, as well as a product designer, interior designer and exhibition designer. He turned his hand to everything, from wallpaper to books, stationery, furniture, windows, posters and logos.

And he was also a painter. His early curved floral forms increasingly gave way to a geometric ornamental surface style and a highly aesthetic design signature, which would significantly shape the world-famous products created by Wiener Werkstätte – which he co-founded in 1903. Moser taught at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule (now the University of Applied Arts), which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017/18.

“The Kiss” and “Wally”

Gustav Klimt also studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule. In the early days of his career he worked with Franz Matsch and his brother Ernst on the opulent interiors of the Burgtheater and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Klimt gradually became a public favourite and portrait artist to the burgeoning middle classes.

His journey to becoming Austria’s best-known artist was not without its issues: Klimt’s view of the world and the nudity in his works were the subject of scandal. Today, Klimt’s painting is synonymous with a particularly sought-after and expensive type of Viennese art that has enjoyed enormous popularity in past decades. Klimt’s portraits of women elevated Austrian art nouveau painting to new heights. His best-known work, “The Kiss”, is on display at the Upper Belvedere.

Egon Schiele was heavily influenced by Klimt. Schiele, like Oskar Kokoshka after him, had Klimt to thank for his fascination with pictures of women that portrayed their innermost thoughts and sensibilities. Schiele too focused on depictions of the human body, mostly his own, taking the genre to an almost ecstatic and demonic new level. His landscapes and pictures of cities are also masterpieces of expressionist art. His two best-known works – “Portrait of Wally” and his “Self-Portrait with Physalis” – are on display at the Leopold Museum. Although Schiele only lived to the age of 28, he left behind a significant and highly-respected oeuvre.

In 2018 these four leading lights of Viennese Modernism and many others are the focus of various exhibitions and events.

Exhibitions on the theme “Beauty and the Abyss. Klimt.Schiele.Wagner.Moser.”

Numerous exhibitions this year are illustrating how artists, scientists, architects and many others had a lasting impact on Vienna in the years around 1900.

Leopold Museum

Egon Schiele. The Jubilee show
Until November 4

Paintings, works on paper and numerous archive records (documents, certificates, etc.) highlight the main aspects of Egon Schiele's creativity: his departure from tradition, finding himself as an expressionist artist, breaking taboos, spirituality and transformation as well as the special portrait presentations. The oil paintings and drawings focus on the expressionist years (1910-1914). The works on paper are shown not in their entirety but in three "runs" for restoration reasons. Important loaned items round out the museum's collection.

Gustav Klimt
Until November 4

The exhibition shows items of the Leopold Museum and the private collection of the Leopold family as well as exhibits of the Klimt Foundation, works of a new permanent loan entrusted to the museum by a descendant of Klimt, as well as international loans. The show presents Klimt's artistic transformation from late Historicism to one of the most important representatives of Vienna Art Nouveau. A special feature is the painting "The Bride", which is exhibited in its own room: Klimt designed his final masterpiece on the basis of numerous drawings and studies, shifting stylistically between Art Nouveau and Expressionism. The unfinished painting is displayed for the first time in the context of relevant working drawings and the artist's sole surviving sketchbook from 1917. The authentic document from the collection of the Klimt Foundation contains not only pencil sketches of now lost or missing Klimt paintings but also illustrates the process behind the creation of this work.

Make me beautiful, Madame d'Ora. The photographer d'Ora 1907-1957
Until October 29

In the studio called Atelier d'Ora, the greats of the art and fashion world, the aristocracy and politicians of the 20th century stepped in front of the camera. The first artist she photographed was Gustav Klimt in 1908, the last was Pablo Picasso in 1956. In 1907, Dora Kallmus was one of the first women in Vienna to open a photographic studio. Within a matter of a few months, Atelier d'Ora was considered to be the most elegant and best-known address for the artistic portrait, and her shots were found in many newspapers and magazines in Austria and abroad.

Moriz Nähr. Photography and Vienna Modernism
Until October 29

Moriz Nähr (1859–1945) is considered to be one of the most important innovators of photography in Vienna around 1900. Nähr formed a life-long artistic friendship with Klimt. Numerous portrait shots of Klimt document this. In reverse, Klimt also took inspiration from the motifs of Nähr. Nähr was the chamber photographer of heir presumptive Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The show presents the different working styles of Nähr: landscape, architecture and portrait photography, "Street Photography" (Naschmarkt scenes) and documentation of the Secession exhibitions.

Lower Belvedere

Beyond Klimt. New Horizons in Central Europe
Until August 26

The end of the First World War and the death of Klimt, Schiele, Wagner and Moser are often interpreted as marking the end of an era, an artistic heyday. The exhibition shows the changes this severe historic cleft actually unleashed, the restrictions it caused, the new perspectives that opened up and the continuities that persisted. This makes it possible to see what remained and what changed in the art of the Danube Monarchy and in the newly created nation states. Around 80 works by artists including Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Moser and Egger-Lienz are being shown.

Orangery (Lower Belvedere)

Egon Schiele - Ways of a collection
October 19, 2018 - February 17, 2019

The exhibition deals with every single work of the Belvedere’s Schiele collection and handles aspects such as acquisition, motif and the portrayed person. The paintings are also set against individual preliminary sketches or related works. The show also enables an expanded view of Schiele’s paintings and his method of working by visualising and discussing the results of the restoration investigations on the Belvedere, which have been ongoing since the autumn of 2016.

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art

Klimt's Magic Garden. A Virtual Reality Experience by Frederick Baker
Until October 7

The MAK is focusing on Klimt’s designs for the mosaic frieze – a highlight of its collection – in the dining room of the Stoclet House in Brussels: "Klimt's Magic Garden" is a virtual reality experiment, inspired by Klimt’s masterpieces "Expectation" and "Fulfillment". The virtual reality artist and filmmaker Frederick Baker has used high-resolution digital photographic material to create a fantastic virtual world in which visitors can embark on an interactive filmic journey.

Post-Otto Wagner: From the Postal Savings Bank to Post-Modernism
Until September 30

The exhibition examines the impact of Otto Wagner as the "father of Modernism". This involves looking as much at the context and interactions between Wagner and other protagonists of early Modernism as it does Wagner's influence on contemporaries, pupils and subsequent generations of architects and designers. Starting with the most important works by Otto Wagner, the exhibition presents themed areas in which his lasting impact on the architecture of Modernism and Post-Modernism can be vividly traced. During the exhibition, the WAGNER:WERK museum in the Austrian Post Savings Bank diagonally opposite the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art will be open to the public again (Mo-Fr 10.00 am to 5.30 pm). There, in Wagner's most important building, the work of the ingenious master builder is vividly depicted.

Koloman Moser. Universal Artist between Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann
December 19, 2018 – April 22, 2019

The Wiener Werkstätte archives, built up by the community of the same name established by Koloman Moser (1868–1918), Josef Hoffmann and Fritz Waerndorfer in 1903, are now owned by the MAK. The aim of this internationally respected group was to bring art into all areas of human existence. Moser, who worked as a painter, graphic artist and craftsman for Wiener Werkstätte until 1907, also taught at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule school between 1899 and 1918. This exhibition highlights his extensive output.

Wien Museum

Otto Wagner Until October 7

To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Otto Wagner (1841-1918), the Wien Museum is dedicating the first major exhibition to this “world capital architect” to be staged for more than 50 years. It presents Wagner’s oeuvre within the context of his contemporaries and detractors, while also looking at the wider cultural, artistic and political environment of his day. Selected pieces from the Wien Museum’s collection – including precious sketches, models, items of furniture, paintings and personal effects – also reflect his international reach.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Stairway to Klimt. Eye to Eye with Klimt + "Nuda Veritas"
Until September 2

As was previously done for the 150th birthday of the painter in 2012, the "Klimt bridge" will again be installed in the stairway of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna in 2018. At a height of 12 metres, visitors have a direct view of, among others, the picture cycle of 13 paintings designed by Klimt, which was created between the pillars and arcades. These so-called spandrel and intercolumnar paintings number among the most important of Gustav Klimt's early works.

At the same time as the Klimt Bridge, Klimt's large-scale painting "Nuda Veritas" will also be on display in the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. It comes from the estate of the critic Hermann Bahr and is being exhibited for the first time in the hall of Doryphoros of the Polykleitos in the context of ancient artworks.

Jewish Museum Vienna

The Place to Be. Salons – Spaces of emancipation
Until October 14

What used to go on in Vienna's salons between 1780 and 1930 would best be described nowadays as networking. These spaces of communication, which were usually influenced by their Jewish hostesses, were places of emancipation and empowerment in two ways: for women, who were still excluded from public life, and for the development of a bourgeois, critical, civil society. The exhibition presents the salons of Fanny Arnstein and Josephine Wertheimstein through to the reform salons of Berta Zuckerkandl and Eugenie Schwarzwald as cultivated places of politics and as political places of culture. It makes the services of the salonières for Vienna's cultural, business and political scene tangible. And finally it shows the importance of Viennese salon culture to expelled Viennese Jews in exile and explains how it was not coincidence that it was Hilde Spiel who made this culture "socially acceptable" in Vienna again in the post-war years following her return from exile in England.

Imperial Furniture Collection

Wagner, Hoffmann, Loos and Furniture design in Viennese Modernism. Artists, Patrons and Producers.
Until October 7

This exhibition presents the work of the leading architects of Viennese Modernism – Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann – as interior designers and furniture designers and their differing approaches to the two disciplines. Another part of the show looks at the manufacturers behind the furniture and interiors, such as Portois & Fix and Gebrüder Thonet as well as their often high-profile patrons (such as Berta Zuckerkandl). Large-format architecture photos by Walter Zednicek show key buildings of Viennese Modernism.

Literature Museum

Berg, Wittgenstein, Zuckerkandl. Leading Figures of Viennese Modernism.
Until February 17, 2019

A prominent salonnière and publicist, Berta Zuckerkandl was friends with numerous artists. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s work influenced the philosophers and writers of his day. And Alban Berg’s musical interpretations of Peter Altenberg’s texts brought him fame – and notoriety. This exhibition takes an in-depth look at these three individuals and their networks, revealing the clear links between the worlds of literature, art, music, architecture and philosophy.

Grillparzerhaus/Austrian State Archives

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Tractatus Odyssey (100 years of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus)
October 16 – November 30

The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is one of the groundbreaking works of philosophical history and is still a challenge today in its uniqueness. Wittgenstein's intention was both a strictly philosophical one and a literary one at the same time. As in poetry, what the philosopher actually wants to say cannot be said – it has to be shown. The complex theory of language developed by Wittgenstein had an enormous influence not only on philosophy but also on literature, music, film, painting, architecture, anthropology and economics.

Ernst Fuchs Museum

Old Viennese Salon Culture – Dazzling Stage for a Society
Until September 30

The history of the Viennese salon provides ample food for thought in a new exhibition hosted in the beautifully preserved Art Nouveau villa once owned by Otto Wagner. It paints a detailed portrait of the era using a blend of cultural, political and sociological components. Another focus is on the stories behind some of the era’s leading personalities.

Austrian Friedrich and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation

Vienna 1924. Avant Garde Hotspot
September 3 - December 21

The architect, artist, designer and stage designer Friedrich Kiesler (1890-1965) organised an "International Exhibition of New Theatre Technology" in Vienna in 1924. This event brought together everyone who was anyone in the avant garde scene. In keeping with Viennese Modernism’s tradition of the "universal artist", he came up with the "Träger- und Legersystem" for the exhibition, a free-standing construction for presenting objects and pictures. The 2018 show will focus on this unique guest event for the avant garde in Vienna.

House of Music. The Sound Museum

Vienna Modernism. A new musical era
Until October 7

The exhibition sheds light on this exciting epoch of change from a musical perspective and thus deepens the tried-and-tested exhibition rooms on the "Second Viennese School" and the composer Gustav Mahler. Mahler's symphonies and his idea for a synthesis of the arts announced the arrival of a radical change. It was Arnold Schönberg who revolutionised everything that had gone before with his twelve-tone technique. This special exhibition deal swith him and his contemporaries Alban Berg and Anton von Webern. Listening areas, historic scores and entertaining anecdotes cast light on the new musical age.

Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien

October 10, 2018 - January 20, 2019

The exhibition is dedicated to "Japomania", the enthusiasm of the Western world for the aesthetics and imagery of the Far East and its influence on Modernism around 1900. Japonism conquered the whole of Europe from its beginnings in Paris. Starting with the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873, a real hype developed in Vienna around Far Eastern aesthetics, from which Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele also took their inspiration. The show presents works by these two artists as well as works by Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the artists' association "Blauer Reiter" - a total of around 100 exhibits.

Theatre Museum

Applications. Koloman Moser and the stage
October 18, 2018 - April 22, 2019

In its anniversary year, the Theatre Museum is dedicated to the previously little-known stage creations of the versatile "jack of all trades" Kolo Moser. In addition to the overall show in the MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, theatre works will be shown from the intimate cabaret stage to the grand opera set. There is also the opportunity to see the recently acquired stage sets and costume designs for Julius Bittner's opera "Der Bergsee". The premiere of the work designed by Kolo Moser was performed at the Imperial and Royal Court Opera Theater in Vienna on November 9, 1911. Also on display in the exhibition will be Klimt's painting "Nuda Veritas", which comes from the estate of the literary figure Hermann Bahr.

Klimt Villa - Gustav Klimt’s Studio

Klimt lost
Until December 30

Klimt is ubiquitous, his artworks world-famous. Little attention is paid to looted art, lost artworks and the stories about collectors, perpetrators and victims. The exhibition at the Klimt Villa asks how we deal with loss, which goes far beyond individual artworks. And it presents the protagonists of those times as well as the lost Klimts from a new angle.

Various locations/Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography

Young Vienna. Nature plus X
Until April 27, 2019

Coordinated by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography, ten exhibitions at different locations in Vienna are making reference to different protagonists of Vienna Modernism. In Café Central the exhibition focuses on the "second living room" of the "Young Vienna" literary circle, in the Metro Kinokulturhaus on the early moving pictures, and in the Sigmund Freud Museum on the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature at the turn of the century. All details, dates, and locations are available at (only in German).

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