VIENNA – With its rich Habsburg history and an abundance of baroque and neoclassical architecture, Vienna is a beautiful city steeped in its imperial past. But on almost every street in its centre, you’ll also find a contemporary art gallery, including such notable names as Galerie Krinzinger and Christine König Galerie, championing new talent. For more than three decades, Sotheby’s Vienna has been part of this dynamic scene. Not only has Sotheby’s organised record-breaking sales of works by Klimt, Schiele and Rubens, it has also promoted young Austrian talent through its Artist Quarterly programme of exhibitions.
To mark its 35th anniversary, Sotheby’s Vienna is presenting a special exhibition of works from Austrian private collections bought over the years through the auction house. Held at the baroque Palais Schönborn-Batthyány, A Glimpse into Austrian Private Collections (23–24 November) will bring together a range of pieces. “I called clients and said ‘I have this idea for a show. Would you loan us a few things?’ No one said no,” says Andrea Jungmann, managing director of Sotheby’s Austria, Hungary & Poland. “I was quite surprised by the positive response.” There are loans from Old Masters to contemporary art, including works by Jeff Wall, Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff. “When Sotheby’s started in Vienna, there was no real art market in Austria,” says Jungmann, adding that buyers and consignors are increasingly international.
Sotheby’s exhibition is a testimony to Austria’s passion for art, one reflected in Vienna’s extraordinary museum collections. This autumn, the Leopold Museum displays for the first time its extensive holdings of African and Oceanic art in Foreign Gods: Fascination Africa and Oceania (through 9 January 2017), tracing the profound effect of tribal art on such figures as Picasso and Modigliani. Edmund de Waal: During the Night (11 October–29 January 2017), at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, has ceramicist and author of The Hare with Amber Eyes curating a show of Old Masters on the theme of anxiety and the fear of the unknown.
For artful lodgings nearby, there is Hotel Altstadt, which displays contemporary works by Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama and others. To sustain art viewing, enjoy a coffee and strudel in the courtyard of Amerlingbeisl, also near the museum quarter. For lunch, there is Die Au, next to the TBA21 exhibition space, with its bar designed by Viennese artist Hans Schabus. And speaking of talented locals, the influential photographer and collector Peter Dressler gets a survey at Kunst Haus Wien (18 November–23 April 2017). For Dressler, who died in 2013, Vienna was an artistic inspiration as well as a place where “substance, quality, quite simply the magic of everyday life still exists in large measure.”
Lead Image: Kunsthistorisches Museum.