As part of the 3D3 Residential we travelled to Vienna to spend a few days looking around the Museum Quarter including a behind the scenes tour of the artist in residence spaces, curatorial spaces and a workshop on Thing-ism with Dr Lee Miller and Bob Whalley of Dogshelf.

We were each given a book of articles, thoughts and activities to explore the idea of the autonomy of things. I set off, with my book, to see some of the exhibitions around the Museum Quarter and to contemplate them in terms of my research inquiry and thing-ism!

My first port of call was the Leopold Museum where I saw the Egon Schiele and a show about Vienna in the 1900s.

The Egon Schiele exhibition featured a number of works, alongside his contemporaries and inspirations. I was really interested in how a lot of the work was framed in these very matt, metallic dark frames. Through out the exhibition the walls were painted a neutral grey but some were painted a deep red or a black blue. The paintings that I enjoyed the most were his depictions of urban landscapes, the houses lined up alongside water, lines of trees of fields, the colours of the houses echoed in the natural landscape around them. The compositions also mimicked the forms of the landscape. The colours were ‘sludgy’ and the paint applied in translucent layers. Everything was dark yet a liberal use of yellow and white seemed to lift the paintings out of the gloom.

The Vienna 1900 exhibition began with Gustav Klimt pieces displaying a couple of paintings where he’d incorporated a pointilist / impressionist technique. There were a number of other paintings by artists I’d not encountered before but used similar styles of that era, painting using arbitrary colour, forms were fluid and everything verges on the about to be abstract.

The display continued with furniture and interiors from the Wiener Werkstratte a movement set up by Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser to bring good design to the Austrian public. A similar aesthetic and movement was being championed by Frank Pick and the Design and Industries Association and by Roger Fry and the Omega Workshop in Britain moving on from the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris and John Ruskin.

In thinking about the autonomy of objects I focused on their display and how I perceived them in the space I found them in. There were some really beautiful shadows created by the way they objects were lit and placed on plinths so I took some photographs (montage above).

Finally the exhibition focused on graphic design with some block coloured screen print posters which had a very Art Nouveau feel.

The museum itself was a very light, classical in use of materials (marble and brass) but contemporary in style and space. The smooth brass hand rails on the stairs were particularly worn at the top of each stair case which I liked, imagining the many hands that had followed them, touching a part of the museum in a place that imposes a barrier between viewer and the art, with frequent signs asking you to not touch. Thing-ism perhaps.

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