Looking out of the window this morning, it was clear that whatever we decided to do, it would be better if it were indoors. It might also be a good day to make use of public transport, being the public transport profis that we are (well, two of us at any rate)
There’s a large tram stop/U Bahn station right opposite our hotel, so we crossed the bridge and went into Schwedenplatz station.
A daily pass is called a “shopping ticket”, so armed with one of those each, we were all set. Validated them and then went in search of a map!
We were headed for Belvedere, so first on the U Bahn to Hauptbahnhof using a clean and fairly quiet train.
Arriving at this modern and rather empty station, a member of the railway staff noticed us looking around for the correct exit and helpfully walked with us to the staircase, advising us auf Deutsch (of course) that it might be a good idea to catch the tram #18 for one stop, to save us getting wet!
Because, actually, the #18 tram stop was right at the top of those stairs! How convenient.
Another clean, modern vehicle with hardly anyone on it this morning. Very easy, very quick and certainly a great deal more comfortable than walking through the rain.
At the entrance to the Belvedere park there was a dire warning. But we three intrepid souls ventured in regardless.
Beautiful gates stand at the entrance to the inner park, which lead to the former home of Prince Eugen – given to him by a grateful nation.
The main Belvedere Schloss is a fine sight across this large but rather grey pond. We like to travel off season but on occasions, we admit that places do look better in the sunshine!
Standing in the ticket queue gives us chance to weigh up the options. Do we want to go to all five places in the park, to just the “Oberes Belvedere”, or to include the “Unteres Belvedere”? Aaagh! We ought to have researched this first!
We settle for the 2 out of 3 combi ticket, which means we get to see the Klimt exhibition as well.
On the reverse side, there’s the added bonus of seeing what the place looks like in better weather, too!
We begin with the Oberes Belvedere and of course, there are no photos allowed. We leave our cloaks in the cloakroom and enjoy a couple of hours in a fine collection of rooms, admiring the work of Schiele, a fine collection of portraits including a self portrait by the artist Lilly Steiner and the huge painting of Napoleon by David. Through the Marble Hall then and on to the Klimt show. Well, I said yesterday that we are not the greatest of fans. That view is tempered rather by our visit and the first hand viewing of some of his masterpieces. It’s also clarified somewhat by the contents of the souvenir shop!
Undoubtedly, Gustav wasn’t the only talented Klimt artist and it was interesting to see the beautiful work done by his two brothers and indeed, his father. I especially liked Georg Klimt’s embossed panels of dancers and thought the landscapes painted by Gustav were far more interesting than the familiar works featuring women. But of course, it was impossible not to be enchanted by the faces, familiar or not and seeing them displayed on a black background, heavily lit, they appeared to glow, as if projected. The remarkable thing for me was the lack of gold and glitter – in real life, these are rather more subdued than in reproduction and though there is still that depth of colour and a richness of tone, the brassy effect often associated with these images is missing.
All three of us were disappointed to see these classic masterpieces and others debased in the gallery souvenir shop – The Kiss was reproduced with cats faces replacing the originals, glitter was added to many of them and we soon realised why we have come to dislike these images so. Even the beautiful Shiele landscape Vier Baume was offered with added gold printing as a postcard. It sounds a little po faced to have a go about such things but, if the gallery which holds these paintings doesn’t respect the artists’ work, then who will?
Oooh, time for some fresh air! Here’s the view of the Unteres Belvedere from the Oberes.
…and here’s the Oberes from the Unteres.
Now, in the Unteres, there was a special exhibition: Awakening the Night. A couple of exhibits in the Oberes had a motif by them, symbolising their relevance to this theme, so as we sat with an Almdudler discussing what next, we read the rationale of the exhibition. This appeared to be some way between someone’s PhD thesis and the results of a curators’ brainstorming meeting:
“The exhibition Awakening the Night … is devoted to the omnipresent and yet seemingly waning power of the night… It will…focus on three paradigm shifts.”
Sadly, however clever the concept, ultimately the success of such a show depends on the quality of the art within, and we didn’t find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by this one. I lost all hope when I came across a tree with “dead birds” hanging from it, but I think both my heroes had already given up by then. Never mind. The building itself shone beyond the contents, the ceilings and the marble room enough to warrant a visit alone and we were happy.
One exhibit alone informed a later visit of mine: a photograph of two nude women standing in what looked like an art gallery, one of whom looked remarkably like Charlotte Rampling. It seemed out of place in this exhibition and none of us could explain or justify its relevance.
Anyway, at this point, we decided to go our separate ways; the boys were headed for the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, where they had been previously and wanted to revisit the display on the Austrian Navy and the exhibit about Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination triggered WW1. I preferred to make my way to the Leopold Museum, to see the Vienna 1900 exhibit. You can stick with me…far more interesting!
I knew nothing of this but was intrigued by the fact it was fenced off. I thought it was still under construction but now wonder if it was merely a result of New Year Celebrations?
Passing the memorial to Johannes Brahms (and humming a little of my favourite 1st symphony) it began to rain a little more, so I put my umbrella up and my head down!
I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of one of the two Karlsplatz pavilions, in spite of the rain
and the bell of Karlskirche struck two o’clock as I passed, as if to say “don’t forget me!”
From there it was a mere step across the road in front of the Technical University with the magnificent architectural details.
Down the side of the Secession House where a coach had not so helpfully parked right in front of the facade
To the Museum Quartier where we’d been yesterday, too.
But just as yesterday, the Quartier seemed empty and soulless and it was hard to decide quite where to go. Fortunately I spotted the Egon Schiele panel on the wall and followed the arrow.
arriving at the entrance to the Leopold Musuem to find the evidence that the critics have used about the accessibility (or lack of it) of these modern buildings.
I handed my coat and umbrella to the cloakroom attendant and went to buy my ticket, realising as I entered my PIN that I’d left my glasses in my coat pocket. Never mind…though the clerk on the desk pointed out that I might need them for the “Naked Men” exhibition!
I began with Egon Schiele though. Photographs were allowed here and there was plenty of room. The chap looking at that painting had been at the Belvedere too, then we’d spotted one another at the Soviet War Memorial. I wonder if he thought I was stalking him…?
At the Belvedere I particularly liked Schiele’s landscapes and here was another in similar vein. It was good to have time and space to appreciate these pieces and I must say, I found them more accessible than some of his “wilder” works.
From here I went up to the fourth floor, where the Wien 1900 exhibit was to be found, and my eyes went straight to this beautiful poster with the most lovely lettering
There were a series of rooms, each with fascinating and typical exhibits of the era
and from time to time, the main exhibit itself was visible through a large picture window
There was more of Schiele’s work and a few Klimts too, which had escaped being gathered up for the larger, commemorative show.
I had a lovely time meandering about, taking photos and scribbling a few thoughts.
Fortunately I still had a little time left to visit the special exhibition too.
(without my glasses!)
It was interesting, for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, we’d spent the morning gazing at artworks with no end of naked women and thought nothing of it, yet somehow, this one seemed rather more provocative. There was a series of rooms, each focused on a single theme – the woman’s viewpoint, the swimming party, classical statues, twentieth century art and so on. None of it was particularly tittilating and the octagonal installation of a bath house with videos of men doing what men do when there are no women about was, to be honest, rather boring. Yet there was a different atmosphere here – no-one was taking photos, sketching or doing the things people normally do in art galleries! Most visitors were young, there were no large tour groups and the picture creating the most interest when I was there was the one on the poster of three French footballers. Real life as it is – the simplest of art there could be? I did rather feel for the (male) gallery attendant standing by the huge image of such athletic physique, though…
And that was that. I caught the U bahn back to the hotel and arrived 30 mins ahead of the boys who had enjoyed an equally successful afternoon.
Just over an hour before dinner. Hmmm……getting hungry!