This section contains an overview of the most relevant exhibitions. Each item is connected to the organizing museum.

Vienna 1900 in a new Light


The Secession building, 1897. Photo: wikipedia

The fascinatingly complex cultural epoch denoted by the term “Vienna 1900” has long been the stuff of legend. Today, this chapter of design and arts and crafts history—subsumed under the terms of Secessionism and Jugendstil—serves like no other to underpin Austrian identity. But around 1900, the search for a suitable style reflected an identity crisis of the bourgeois class. The entirely contradictory results of this search were tied together by a central characteristic of the modern era: a pioneering desire for expressive individuality. The MAK (Museum für angewandte Kunst) in Vienna now invites visitors to engage in a multilayered examination of the “Vienna 1900” phenomenon. Vienna 1900. Design / Arts and Crafts 1890–1938 adheres to a largely chronological structure: the first room is dedicated to the search for a modern style; the second room features a close look at the Viennese style; and the third room points the way to the International Style. Around 500 collection objects are shown in various thematic combinations that serve to shed light on art-historical and sociopolitical aspects relevant to Viennese modernism. The new Permanent Collection on the “Vienna 1900” theme document mutual effects, making an important contribution towards underpinning a broader understanding of Central European modernism’s development.

Roman Wheat, the other Roman Gold


The other Roman Gold. Photo:Musée Romain

Roman gold was also corn, an essential part of daily life of hundreds of thousands inhabitants of Rome. In this exhibition in the Roman museun (Musée Romain), the corn seed is scattered into every direction and Roman society in its entirety emerges in a new light: the “harvesters” pushed by donkeys, public distributions of corn, bread to eat with oysters, the distribution and transport of corn and many other aspects. The surprising discoveries also provide information on the main trends in the food, economics, trade, politics and even the religion of the Romans. Panem et circenses, bread and games … Corn was also a tool of power in the hands of the Roman emperors and the elite.

The Danish Way


Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909), Selfportret, 1897. © Sammlung Hirschsprung, Kopenhagen

The decisive shift towards modernism took place in Danish art during the 1880s: grand narratives were replaced by snapshots of reality – unvarnished depictions of Danish country life, stripped of all idealism and devoid of the pathos of history painting. In the preceding decades, artists had continued to adhere to Romantic ideals and focussed mainly on national themes. Art played such a key role in this far-reaching modernisation process, which affected many areas of Danish society at the end of the 19th century, that this period is now described as the era of the ‘modern breakthrough’. Danish painters offered a new, more realistic perspective on rural life. Influenced to a certain extent by modern French art and the ‘return to nature’ advocated by the painters of the Barbizon School, artists such as Theodor Philipsen (1840–1920) and Joakim Skovgaard (1856–1933) also presented a different view of the Danish landscape. This involved paying particular attention to the realistic depiction of light and atmospheric conditions at different times of day and throughout the year.
The Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen is one of the finest and most extensive collections of 19th-century Danish painting. All the leading Danish artists of the period are represented in this collection, which was built by the tobacco manufacturer and passionate art collector Heinrich Hirschsprung (1836–1908) and has been on display in its own museum since 1911: from the painters of the ‘Danish Golden Age’ during the first half of the 19th century, such as Christoffer Eckersberg (1783–1853) or Christen Købke (1810–1848), through to the Danish Impressionists and Symbolists in the latter half, including the internationally renowned painters Peder Krøyer (1851–1909) and Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916).

Henri Matisse and the Fauvists


Henry Matisse in 1933. Photo: Carl van Vechten.

The Albertina in Vienna is presenting around 160 works by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and the fauvists. Most of the works of the young artists, who art critics at the time compared with “fauves” (“wild animals”), are available to view for the first time ever in Vienna and Central Europe. Henri Matisse was the head and the spokesman of the fauves. Together with his group of artists, he caused a stir in 1905 at the 3rd Paris Autumn Salon. Their paintings literally roared from the walls. The public was appalled by the violent, apparently hastily applied brush strokes and the colourful, intensely luminous colours. The motif was secondary; what counted was expression. In addition to the famous paintings, the exhibit demonstrates that Matisse and the fauves also strived for expression and intensity in their bronzes, ceramics, stone sculptures and furniture. Fauvism lasted only two years, but was, as the first avant garde movement of the 20th century, of epochal significance for the development of Modernity.