Vienna – Museums Quartier – Secessionist art at the Leopold Museum

The Museumsquartier houses nine of the city’s major museums in over 60,000 square metres of exhibition space. These include the Leopold Museum (famous Secession artists), the Kunsthistorisches Museum (art history), MUMOK (modern art), Kunsthalle (contemporary art), Architekturzentrum (architecture and urban design) and Zoom (children’s museum). So there’s a lot to see. I only managed to get round the first two. Please see the next post for the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

You’ll find all these places on my map, and also several cafes, restaurants and bars in the area.

The main reason I came to Vienna in 2018 was because the city was honouring the 100th anniversary of the deaths of four of the Secession movement’s leading artists: Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner and Kolo Moser.

I visited the Leopold Museum to see the special exhibitions for Klimt and Schiele but I also took in another by the photographer Dora Kallmuss. Be warned some of the images in this post are quite shocking.

The Klimt exhibition turned out to be more about his life and was quite small, but still interesting.

He loved cats and had lots of them as pets, as many as ten at a time.

There were some photos of his studio, apartment and personal belongings.

Also a couple of pieces by his sister-in-law, favourite model and lifelong companion, Emilie Louise Flöge, who was a successful fashion designer. One of Klimt’s most iconic works, The Kiss, is said to depict Flöge and Klimt as lovers. Despite this, some have cast doubt on whether their relationship was acutally consumated, despite Klimt’s reputation as a notorious womaniser.

There were only a couple of paintings on show. This work depicting Hygeia, the goddess of health, cleanliness and hygiene, shown with a snake and a bowl (symbols of pharmacy). The painting, financed with public money, was highly controversial at the time as it departed from conservative art traditions.

Also another famous painting, Death & Life, which depicts the human life cycle. Curiously it wasn’t exhibited in Vienna during Klimt’s lifetime.

The Leopold Museum is named after ophthalmologist Rudolf Leopold, who amassed a huge private collection of 19th-century and modernist Austrian artworks, including many by Egon Schiele. In 1994 he sold all 5,266 paintings to the Austrian state and the Leopold Museum was born.

The museum contains the world’s largest collection of Schiele’s work. Click on the pics in the gallery for the best view.

In the cellar was an interesting exhibition of works by photographer Dora Kallmuss.

Only people strong of stomach should look at the rest of this post…

Kallmuss was a trailblazing female photograper, the first woman to attend theory courses at the Graphic Training Institute in Vienna. She achieved international success in the 30s and 40s as a society and fashion photographer under the professional name Madame D’Ora. Her subjects, amongst many, many other luminaries of her age, included Klimt, Flöge, Coco Chanel, Picasso and Colette.

Unfortunately her career was cut short by WW2, and as a person of Jewish background, she was greatly affected by the Holocaust. This can be seen by her later photographs, taken in a Parisian abattoir, which allude to the horrors of the concentration camps.

I don’t think anyone could see this exhibtition and not be deeply affected. I left this gallery a different person, which is really the whole point…

Down the road to the Kunsthistorisches Museum next…

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