The Albertina Modern: A Captivating Virtual Visit

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Albertina modern in the Künstlerhaus Vienna, opening exhibition “The Beginning, Art in Austria 1945-1980.” Albertina Modern Photos

Welcome to the Albertina Modern in Vienna—well, Virtually!

By Megan Mentuck

Like so many other things, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has made international travel difficult—but thanks to the Vienna Tourist Board visitors can tune in to Vienna’s gorgeous museums remotely with a arts professional offering insight into the work!

Albertina Modern. Neo Rauch REVO ALBERTINA Wien – The ESSL Collection © Bildrecht Wien 2020 Photos
Neo Rauch REVO ALBERTINA Wien – The ESSL Collection © Bildrecht Wien 2020 Photos

On Thursday, February 25th, I attended their latest installment of the live stream series.

They featured Vienna’s Albertina Modern, which according to Norbert Kettner, the Director of Vienna’s Tourist Board, is “Vienna’s newest museum of modern and contemporary art.”

The Albertina Modern opened not too long in 2020. The museum is centrally located in the city’s metropolitan area within walking distance to other museums and historic sites in Vienna.

Art and Culture Key to Vienna

The showcase opened with Kettner introducing the museum and making a point to emphasize the importance of art and culture within the city of Vienna.

Viewers are shown a sweeping shot of where the museum is located as well as a few shots of art that will be discussed within this episode.

Adia Trischler, a Vienna moderator, welcomes visitors virtually to the museum along with her counterpart, Professor Dr. Klaus Albrecht Shroder, General Director of Albertina.

Throughout the thirty-minute livestream, Schroder focuses on the ten pieces out of the 200 works that were selected for the exhibition.

Check out the Art!

The first piece is one of two giant popes, Pope Benedict the 16th and Pope John Paul the Second.

The sculpture, by Romanian artist Virgilius Moldovan embraces ugliness and aging in a way that you may not initially think of when you think of traditional sculpture.

Fang Lijun © The Albertina Museum Vienna The Essl Collection
Fang Lijun © The Albertina Museum Vienna The Essl Collection Photos.

The second piece shown is a starking contrast to the sculpture of the two popes.

Rather than hyper-realistic and ugly, the painting is a beautiful surreal representation of two people embracing while a peony flower and blue sky sit behind them.

The piece by Fang Lijun is striking on the screen and I can only imagine even more so in person.

My Favorite Piece

The next work of art that is shown has to be my favorite and I’ve come to realize that I’m not alone!

The art installation, done by the Danish artist Peter Land, ranks as one of the most popular pieces of contemporary or modern art that the Albertina Modern has on display.

The life-size portrait showcases a representation of a man dressed in his pajamas laying in bed.

Dr. Schroder introduces the work while standing right next to it in what looks like a completely white room.

This backdrop to the life-size portrait is an element of the unique work.

On the walls around him, there are doors that all seem like they would be too small for the representation of the man to get through.

Another important element of the piece is arms, legs, and hands, which are unrealistically long, so long that they fall off of the bed and rest on the floor.

Dr. Schroder introduces the question to the viewers at home: What is this man thinking about?

It seems to be the central element to the piece, the universally shared question that accompanies viewers of the artwork.

Dr. Schroder suggests that the absurd size of his arms and legs coupled with the presence of the small doors and the fact that the man’s eyes are open suggests that the work is a depiction of a loss of control, which feels fitting given the mode by which I am tuning in to see this art.

Even More Art?!

If you’re like me, not particularly well-versed in the trends of contemporary artists, you may not know of the artist, Iraq Baselets.

However, Georg Baselitz is a well-known contemporary artist who is known for disrupting the traditional roles of abstraction and representation.

Albertina Modern. George Baselitz Hockender Hound
George Baselitz Hockender Hound

We’re shown two of his pieces, one an abstraction of a dog and the other an upside-down portraiture of what looks to me like a young boy.

Following Baselitz, Dr. Schroder continues the tour to show visitors pieces from the artists Neo Rauch (a founder of the Leipzig School of Art), British painter Cecily Brown, German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol, and famous American artist Alex Katz.

Dr. Schroder, when introducing work from Katz, emphasizes that the museum is known for their exhibition of modern art and unique collection with work from many different famous American artists.

Katz’s Beach Stop

The piece by Alex Katz is a dreamy pop-art Esque painting that features people resting in front of an ocean in Lincolnville, Maine.

I was surprised to see such a familiar scene represented and on display in this prestigious museum halfway across the world!

Albertine Modern. Alex Katz Beach Stop
The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna – The ESSL Collection. Mischa Nawrata, Vienna / Bildrecht, Vienna, 2020 Photos.

It was charming and exciting to see the artistic rendition of a place that I, myself, have been familiar with. Katz, now age ninety-two, abstracts reality in his piece to convey a feeling in his representation.

Americans & Europeans

In contrast, the next piece shown by Daniel Richter captures a different perspective of our modern world.

The German artist captures the essence of a world in crisis in his figurative painting.

In the piece, refugees are holding on for life in a representation of a boat with a black background behind them.

The piece, similarly to Katz’s, is an abstract representation of our modern reality.

Following the work of Katz and Richter, viewers are shown work by British artist Sarah Morris and a sculpture done by another artist before it is time for viewers of the showcase to ask their questions.

Plan Your (Virtual) Visit

Comments and questions are yielded via email and the chat function on the side of the livestream.

Personally, I didn’t have any pressing questions so I didn’t opt to send one in, but was interested to see what questions other viewers had in mind.

Cecily Brown Tripe with Lemons
Cecily Brown. Tripe with Lemons. ALBERTINA, Wien – The ESSL Collection © Cecily Brown Photos.

People were curious to know about what works were on display, how closely visitors could interact with the pieces and a bit more about some of the artists’ backgrounds.

Overall, I really enjoyed the live stream.

I felt I had learned a bit about contemporary and modern art in a way that was much more exciting than reading from a textbook or something of that nature.

Having a professional to guide and direct the virtual tour was great and I’d recommend anyone interested in art to check out the upcoming live streams and other virtual events!

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