Friday, August 29, 2008

Vienna Part 2: Saturday Morning

After a leisurely start to the day (well the previous evening had featured cocktails and Ottakring beer) and a slap up breakfast from the well stocked buffet we wandered out to the Museums Quartier (very odd seeing all these "MQ" logos about - usually mean something rather different in my neck of the woods), this area were the former Imperial Stables (must of had an awful lot of horses). Here it was decided to track down the gallery that was featuring an exhibition entitled: "Bad Painting - good art", unfortunately this did not mean that just because I am a bad painter there was hope for me. This was one of the exhibitions being staged at MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst - Vienna's Museum of Modern Art. This museum or gallery was located in the centre of the Museums Quartier, the collection is held in the building pictured below, its basalt covered bulk sitting incongruously alongside the historical buildings surrounding it. It seemed to be balanced out by the Leopold Museum the otherside of the main courtyard.
Inside we found a varied selection of 20th& 21st century art, a good amount of it conceptual. Hmmmm. Anyway, a lot of the museum houses various exhibitions some temporary and others more or less permanent. We started from the middle floor with the last room of the aforementioned exhibition, but later discovered we would have been best getting the lift to the top floor and walking our way down.

The Bad painting - good art exhibition draws attention to the "Bad painting" phenomenon - I hadn't realised there had been one. The period covers 1920s to as recent as the 80s and beyond. Some of the more 80's paintings reminded me of some of the mixed media techniques used today using mirrors or broken crockery to disrupt the paintings. I liked one artist Lisa Yuskavage who had several of her works in the exhibition. On first impressions they look like pretty pastel crowd pleasers but portray overtly sexulized nudes, my favourite was Brood. (I get a kick out of non PC). In a way I was reminded of an exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2004 where 3 embroiderers each with a solo show were grouped together (like in the naughty corner) because their subject was deemed likely to cause offence. We drifted upstairs and saw works by among others Francis Picabia and Rene Magritte.
We then did the next exhibition back to front as well "Multiple Perspectives" this was in honour of the museums founding director and celebrated the forming of the collection which he managed to build with limited means. So a lot the contents of this exhibition were of early to mid 20th century art which whilst not being singular masterpieces, represented a good mix of the many styles of that era. There were paintings and scupltures by Picassio, Klee, Kandinsky, Matisse as well as some lesser known artists. I particularly liked Green House by Ernst Kirchner.
After this, before moving on to the lower floors we stopped off at the cafe en route for my first cocktail of the day, non-alcoholic of course, a "Muddy Water". I did get strange look from our waitress for asking for an orange juice as well as a diet cola, pretty sure it wasn't my dodgy German as like a lot of the kind Austrians we met during our visit her English was very good. Whilst the mixture of equal parts of OJ and cola looks a little yukky (hence the name) it is a fine concotion if you need caffeine, vitamin C and hydration after an evening off not-so-alchohol free beverages. (I wasn't that bad just fancied a little pick-me up)

On the lower floors we entered into the land of the truly weird and conceptual. The Weiner Aktionismus is a permanent exhibition of performance art a lot of the installations are videos with the odd glass and foot print encrusted canvas (ouch!) thrown in. This movement was in the 1960s and quite literally spilled blood and guts. There was a distrubing video of a woman brushing her own hair in a particularly violent way - what she needed was a nice mummy like I had as a little girl (despite being a major wriggle fidget) who brushed my hair for me and put it into bunches or a ponytail. If I was especially good she would plait it.

A further couple of exhibitions were explored, one looking at architecture and the body "Mind Expanders" and a solo exhibition by Josh Smith. There were some silver ring things hung in the central atrium by Roland Kollnitz, but have to confess to being almost as much as an art pleb as M when I thought the pile of rings at the bottom were more of a hanging mishap than intentional.

We wandered out via the shop for a couple of postcards (Mondrian, Kirchner and Kupka) and found G who had already escaped and had sought out a cola. She was reclining on one of the lurid purple blocks which we took for painted concrete. In reality though they were more like purple coated, high density foam and were quite comfortable to lounge on for a minute or two before departing the area and returning to our hotel to prepare for the wedding celebrations.


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