Some Controversies For Your Sightseeing Programme
Controversial Vienna Art. Vienna ist not known for sending shockwaves through the art world. But there have always been controversial artists in Vienna, producing scandals that raged across local magistrates, coffeehouses, hairdressing salons and established art circles. Discover Vienna’s flipside and forever change the way you think about Viennese art.
1. Vienna Secession And Beethoven Frieze
Controversial Vienna Art. No one bats an eyelash nowadays when seeing the Vienna Secession. When it was built at the end of the 19th century, however, the white cubes balancing a huge golden sphere split the local art world. The Art Nouveau building was pushed from being constructed along the Ringstrasse state boulevard back into ‘second row’at Friedrichstrasse. What caused an even bigger stir among Viennese was the Beethoven frieze that revealed Gustav Klimts shamelessly nude females in 1902.
Where to see them: Friedrichstrasse, behind Karlsplatz, in front of Naschmarkt;
2. Hrdlicka Memorial
Controversial Vienna Art. Two large white marble blocks emprisoning human bodies open a small passage to a life size bronzen jew bending down to clean the streets. Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka rocked the public conscience about the atrocities of World War II with his ‘Memorial Against War and Fascism’. The Viennese would have appreciated some more positive and forward looking symbolism to look at when on their way to work, the opera or shopping. After the memorial had been set up in 1988, many tourists mistook the jew for a cosy bench to have their sandwiches: He has been wrapped up in barbed wire since.
Where to see it: Albertinaplatz, behind the Vienna State Opera, opposite theAlbertina Vienna Museum;
3. Austrian Postal Savings Bank
Controversial Vienna Art. Look from the naked facade of Otto Wagner‘s Austrian Postal Savings Bank to the stucco-decorated palaces and residential buildings surrounding it. Imagine the genuine conservative Viennese soul of the early 20th century and you re-create the perfect clash. The public tender for the project was heavily discussed, and Emperor Francis Joseph was reportedly not a friend of Wagner’s utilitarian (and utterly efficient) plan. What is so amazing with the interiors and exteriors: Even the tiniest decorative detail has a practical function.
Where to see it: Georg-Coch Platz, just off Ringstrasse boulevard;
4. Egon Schiele
Controversial Vienna Art. Pale and emaciated naked women of all ages in relaxed poses were his trademark back in the early 20th century. Austrian avantgarde artist Egon Schiele’s paintings take the make up off body and soul and dissect it in detail.
While Gustav Klimt supported Schiele, the catholic Viennese public was horrified and hostile of these ‘most disgusting aberrations that Vienna ever witnessed’. Among his most controversial paintings are ‘Portrait Wally’ and ‘Black Haired Girl With Turned Up Skirt’.
Where to see his works: Leopold Museum at Museumsquartier;
5. Haas Haus
Where to see it: Stephansplatz, city centre;
6. Gottfried Helnwein
Controversial Vienna Art. What do internationally renown skandal artist Gottfried Helnwein and Arnold Schwarzenegger (‘The Terminator’) have in common? Both are Austrian, both address violence. Except, Helnwein makes you think while you cringe at forks stuck in bodily parts, bloody bandaged heads, blindfolded girls with guns. You can even challenge the way you think about Mickey Mouse (looks so scary) and Andy Wharhol (Frankenstein’s brother).
Where to see his art: Albertina Vienna museum, graphic collection;
7. Hermann Nitsch
Where to see his works: Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) at Museumsquartier;