The Leopold Museum, Vienna

Day 74, Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Leopold Museum has the largest collection of Egon Schiele’s work in Vienna as well as several of Gustav Klimt’s works.

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality.  Schiele completed many self portraits, including naked self portraits.  I  am intrigued by Shiele’s drawings and was looking forward to seeing his work.  Unfortunately exhibited works on paper are facsimiles, because the actual drawings and watercolours would be damaged by continual exhibit.  They are very good facsimiles, but not the real thing.  It would be nice to look closely at some of his original drawings and watercolour paintings.  I guess I will have to hope to one day visit a special Schiele exhibit, similar to the Dürer one I saw yesterday, in order to see his original work.
 ‘Chrysanthmemen’ was a painting I hadn’t seen before.
Two of Schiele’s naked self-portraits. the first is an oil and the second gouache and black chalk on paper, so it is a facsimile.  These are both larger than I had thought.  The oil painting is 1.5 m x1.5 m and the gouache 63 x 44 cm.
I have decided that I like Schiele’s figurative watercolours and drawings more than his figurative oils.  
The commentary for ‘Small Tree in Autumn’ says that the trunk and branch on the right look like human legs, while the branches of the treetop resemble arms.  I never saw that before and now it is all I can see!  I even see a head just below the arms.  
These two long narrow oils are not what I think of as typical Schiele paintings but I like both of them.

‘Mother and Child’ is a well known painting.  I do love how expressive Schiele’s hands are. Schiele’s 1912 ‘Self Portrait with Chinese Lanterns’ was painted as a companion piece for the ‘Portrait of Wally Neuzil’ who was his muse and partner from 1911 to 1915.  Both these paintings have a gentleness and sensitivity not found in all his work.  I like these very much. Quite different from this self portrait completed the same year.  Schiele was born in 1890 and died in 1918.  He was only 28 years old when he died, yet he created over 3,000 works on paper and around 300 paintings!  I wonder what he would have accomplished if he had lived longer.  He died during the Spanish Flu Epidemic, just three days after his six month pregnant wife Edith. ‘Reclining Woman’ was bigger than I expected.  Originally the woman’s genitals were exposed but Schiele added the white cloth covering in order to be able to show the work at an exhibition in Vienna in 1918. There are several landscapes, and most of them are quite large. ‘The Small Town IV’… and ‘House With Shingled Roof’ were two that I particularly liked.  Although Schiele only painted for such a short time, his work laid the foundations for the Viennese Expressionist movement as well as inspiring other future movements, such as Abstract Impressionism.

There is a small collection of Gustav Klimt’s work. Klimt (1862-1918), was Schiele’s mentor, so it is nice to see their work exhibited together.  This ‘Head Study of a Girl from Hanā’ is thought to have been completed while Klimt was still a student.

‘The Blind Man’ was first exhibited in 1898. ‘Death and Life’ won the Gold Medal at the 1911 International Art Exhibition in Rome.  This painting and ‘The Kiss’, that I saw at the Belvedere,  are two of Klimt’s most well known paintings. I feel very fortunate to have seen both of them in person, as well as all the other amazing works of art I have seen on this trip. As we are leaving the Leopold I notice this painting, which makes both of us laugh!  It is by Albert Birkle and is titled ‘Man with Fur Cap’, or ‘My Brother the Animal’! Near the metro station Bob notices this crane which has just been erected.  Neither of us have seen one with so many arms before.When I saw this building our first day in Vienna I thought it was the Hundertwasser House but it wasn’t.  Turns out that it was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser!  It is the Spittelau Incinerator which is used to handle Vienna’s garbage.  The environmentally friendly plant produces enough energy to heat more than 60,000 households in Vienna in a year.I have one more life drawing session tonight at Kaffeebar Quentin.  I have attended many life drawing sessions in bars or pubs and the model is always at least partially clothed, so I was quite surprised when our model is completely nude.  We are in the back of the bar, but the model is still in full view of all the other patrons as well as anyone who happens to look in the windows.  Wish I had a scanner, as it would improve the quality of these photos, but I don’t think I can haul one around on holidays!  These are all 5 minute poses. Two ten minute and one twenty minute drawing… and we finished the evening with a twenty-five minute pose.  The people at this session were very friendly and I had met some of them at the other two sessions this week.  I will miss Vienna, they have so many life drawing opportunities.  There is a session almost every day of the week, and lots of them have interesting themes.  

Dürer Exhibit at the Albertina Museum, Vienna

Day 72, Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I have been looking forward to visiting this Dürer Exhibit.  I only found out about it in Munich at a drawing Meetup.  This exhibition is the most comprehensive Dürer exhibition  in decades.  It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

It is raining today so it is a good day to spend inside. We purchased our tickets online so no waiting in the lineup!Before we see the Dürer exhibit we visit the other parts of the museum.  There are 20 decorated and restored Habsburg State Rooms with precious wall coverings, chandeliers, fireplaces and stoves, inlaid floors, and exquisite furniture. We pass through these fairly quickly, we have seen quite a few of these kinds of rooms on this trip and I am more interested in the Dürer exhibit.  The floors are beautiful with inlaid wood designs.  We notice that the floors we walk on are actually reproductions placed over the original floors in order to preserve them.  If you look closely you can just make out the seam lines of these rectangular reproduction tiles.

The chandeliers in this room were very beautiful. The most interesting thing in these rooms was the art exhibit on the walls.  We have a print of this Hieronymus Bosch drawing at home.  Unfortunately the drawings and prints are facsimiles.  Very good ones, but facsimiles non-the-less.  This is necessary as works on paper are fragile and can not be displayed for long periods of time. 

There are so many works that I am familiar with and some, like the Munch woodcut that are new to me.  These are: Munch’s The Kiss IV, two Schiele watercolours, Rembrandt’s Elephant, and Rubens’ drawing of his son Nicolas.
Now on to the main event!

It has been decades since so many works by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) have been seen in one place.  There are more than 200 examples of Dürer’s drawings, printed graphics, and paintings on display at the Albertina.

This ‘Self Portrait at the Age of Thirteen’ from 1484 is the first work that I see when we enter the exhibition rooms. I took so many photos but have chosen just a few of my favourite ones for today’s post. Here is ‘Three Studies of Dürer’s Left Hand’ 1493/94.  I like drawing hands and feet and there is much to learn from Dürer. This page of studies was so interesting.   Here is another drawing I have seen so often in books.
‘The Woman’s Bath’ is a pen and ink drawing… and this ‘Illustration for the Apocalypse’ is a woodcut.  Dürer was a master of all mediums. Dürer’s watercolours are exquisite.  This painting is simply titled ‘Iris’. A watercolour study of a ‘Blue Rolle’r from 1500.We enter another room and there on the far wall are three famous works.  Dürer’s ‘Young Hare’ is only exhibited once every five years for a period of no more than three months.  It is just luck that it is on exhibit while we are here.  This is another print that we have at home.  Bob wishes it was the original!! ‘The Great Piece of Turf’ was painted on the largest piece of paper available at the time to portray the plants life sized. ‘The Wing of a Blue Roller’ is quite amazing.  This work is watercolour and body colour on parchment with fine gold lines on the breast plumage to enhance the iridescence of the feathers.  There is no one telling visitors to keep a certain distance from the works, so my nose gets up very close! I liked the study of a bull’s nose too… and this ‘Columbine”… and this page of studies.   OK. I love pretty much everything I see here!  This head of an angel and head of twelve year old Jesus are studies for a larger painting … as is this hand study.  It is fascinating to see the studies and then the finished painting. ‘The Praying Hands’ is a well known Dürer image. I really didn’t know much about Dürer’s oil paintings.  I particularly loved this one.  The Madonna’s face is so beautiful.
Dürer drawing and woodcut of a rhino were made without his ever having seen a rhinoceros!  He drew from a written description of the animal and his imagination. I have always loved this ‘Portrait of a 93 Year Old Man’.  I didn’t know it was done with a brush!   As we are leaving the museum I see this Modigliani painting ‘Prostitute’.  I have always liked Modigliani’s work but haven’t really see very many in person.   One last photo at the Albertina.  Seems I want to sprout wings this trip! We spent four hours here today and I could easily have spent much more time here but this will have to do.  I bought the catalogue for the exhibit.  It is huge, and weighs 6.6 pounds!  Good thing we are near the end of our trip!

I have a Life Drawing Meetup session at 7:00 pm and want to have a bit of a rest before that.  I just realized that I posted tonight’s life drawing photos in yesterday’s blog by mistake!  After being on holidays for so long it is easy to mix up the days.

Belvedere Museum and St. Charles Church, Vienna

Day 71, Monday, November 4, 2019

I visit the Belvedere Art Museum this morning while Bob goes for walk and explores the area around the museum.  The Belvedere, like so many of the museums we have visited was once a palace.  This is the grand entrance staircase… and the beautiful Marble Hall. I particularly wanted to see Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, but was pleased to find his Judith painting here as well.The Kiss is one of Klimt’s most well known paintings.  It is a large painting, 183 x183 cm. It is nice to be able to see the painting details up close. I am also surprised by how many Egon Schiele paintings are on display.  It is quite special to be able to see the original paintings of some of my favourite works by these two painters.  I didn’t realize that these paintings were so large.  Looking at reproductions in books can be deceiving.  The Embrace and….  the Family are both much bigger than I imagined… as are these paintings. Schiele’s Self Portrait is the smallest painting, about 41 x 33 cm. I didn’t know Jacques-Louis David’s painting of Napoleon was here either.  I am so glad I was able to visit this museum.  This painting is enormous, 272 × 232 cm!This painting shows the Vienna Naschmarkt in 1894.  It has changed a bit over the years! We meet up in the gardens outside the Belvedere and then walk towards St. Charles Church.  There are so many interesting buildings along the way.
We had a huge surprise when we entered St. Charles Church.  Two enormous floating mirrored balls that reflected the church… and us.  We are almost in the centre of the reflection but we are very tiny.  “Aerocene” is a contemporary art installation by Tomas Saraceno, an Argentinian artist who lives and works in Berlin.  The floating reflective balls are 10 and 7 metres in diameter. Then we notice the scaffolding that goes high up into the dome, and that is where we are going to go!  We thought the elevator ride we got a ticket for would be inside a bell tower.  Nope!  We ride to the top of this scaffolding and then climb a bit further, onto that platform you see leading into one of the round windows in the dome! Looking down from the top of this ‘elevator’ we notice a workman adjusting lights high up in the dome, yet still far below us! We have a great view of the dome paintings.  It is interesting the way the gold highlights look up this close… and we have a great view of the other dome paintings.  We are crazy high up!Bob walks back down to this viewing platform so I can get a photo.  Notice how he is suspended…nothing below him!This photo shows the platform that Bob was standing on in the last photo.
We spent quite a lot of time way up there in the dome, and it is getting dark when we get outside.  If you look closely you can see some people standing in the round window on the dome.  That is the window we were standing in!  What an amazing experience.  There was restoration work carried out in the dome and the elevator is being kept for a while.  The fee to ride up into the dome is a way to make more money for further restorations. Walking back towards the metro we pass the Opera House… and take photos of these performers from Tibet.  They have a performance later tonight and were taking publicity photos outside the Opera House. While the men posed, some of the women were busy applying their makeup.   This is a a huge paper art installation we pass in a walkway near the metro. A close-up shows lots and lots of writing, musical notations and random marks. We get home, have dinner, then I head off to a drop-in drawing session with a Meetup group at a pub called Monami.

It was bit hard drawing the model as there were 40 people crammed into a small room.  I had coloured some of the pages in my sketchbook at home before the session.  Interesting to draw on but they don’t photograph very well. We were pretty much rubbing elbows as we drew and my views weren’t always great but it was lots of fun.
I finished the session with a 20 minute leg study.  I felt quite comfortable going out in the evening by myself.  The metro is easy to navigate and there were lots of people about.