Vienna exhibitions. Facing Modernity: the portrait in Vienna 1900. 9TH October 2013-12TH January 2014. Art review by Maite Rodriguez.
Its astonishing how Vienna does it, time after time it produces exquisite exhibitions focusing on the effortless art that flared up around the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition portrays the Biedermeier period, a time before World War I with classic scenes and high-class aristocracy, and ends with the tormented portraits Schiele, such as anxiety and alienation from one society to explode.
Located in the UK and curated by Dr. Gemma Blackshaw, it is the first major show devoted to the portrait in Vienna. The exhibition focuses on social change at a period when the Empire, in particular the capital, Vienna enjoyed considerable religious freedom and strong economic growth linked to liberal and democratic reforms. Vienna’s middle-classes were made up of numerous ethnic and religious groups including a large group of wealthy Jewish families and organisations. When the Empire was dissolved in 1918 society had undergone many changes with Jewish families and organisations suffering particularly badly: an increase in the number of conservative, nationalist and anti-Semitic mass movements forced many Jewish families to leave the city.
Organized by the National Gallery, it is unique as it unites in one place the musicians Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg , architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner , painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Portraits were not only a status symbol; they were also the way Vienna’s middle-class’s asserted their position. Viennese artists focused mainly on portraits because that’s what their wealthy customers demanded. A fantastic exhibition, jam packed with the best known artists of its time.
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