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Albertina - Monet to Picasso. The Batliner collection.

Category: Exhibition 15. January 2015

The permanent exhibition „Monet to Picasso. The Batliner collection.” at the Museum Albertina in Vienna offers an extensive overview of one of the most important chapters in art history: the turn from figurative to abstract art.

To which extent modern art is an evolutionary development of 19th century art or rather the result of a break in the unity of cultural values, the visitor can in either case find valuable clues to this question in this elaborately arranged exhibition. In a total of 11 halls, a chronology of European art history unfolds before the viewer; leading from a “viewing experience to a learning experience”, as the Albertina’s director K.A. Schröder puts it.

In this period around the turn of the century and afterwards, one of the most profound revolutions in recent art history came about. Perhaps because there was a lot to discover, or because conventions and theoretical boundaries were transcended and the historical and social circumstances were favourable, in these years the foundation for a new conception of art was consolidated, a conception based on experimentation, on the myth of overcoming traditions and on the creed of the avant-garde.

The core of this permanent exhibition is the Batliner collection, one of the most renowned collections in Europe, containing about 500 items. In 2007 the collection was handed over to the Albertina by Rita and Herbert Batliner as a loan. After being shown in the Eremitage of Saint Petersburg and in the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein in 2013, it is now back and on display in the Albertina.

The starting point of the newly arranged exhibition is a hall with impressionists and post-impressionists like Monet, Renoir, with a portrait of a young girl, Degas (“Two Dancers”), Cézanne, Lebasque and Pierre Bonnard. There are also works by Matisse, Signac, Braque, Delaunay and de Vlaminck, besides many more milestones of art history.

The following rooms are dedicated to expressionism and the artist groups “Die Brücke” and “Blauer Reiter” with outstanding works by Max Pechstein, E.L.Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Otto Mueller and also Edvard Munch. In the Russian Gallery, important works of the Russian avant-garde, suprematism, neo-primitivism and constructivism are on display: Malevich, Goncharova, Soutine, Larionov and other important artists give an overview of the Russian avant-garde.

A separate room is dedicated to works in small format by Paul Klee from the Carl Djerassi collection. Passing through halls with works by Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti (with sculptures and paintings), Max Ernst, Magritte, Delvaux, as well as sculptures by Wotruba, Brancusi, Max Ernst and Giacomo Manzú, the visitor reaches the grand finale of the exhibition with groundbreaking paintings by Pablo Picasso.

Approaches like expressionism, fauvism, cubism and the first beginnings of abstraction, like in the work of Malevich, form the mosaic of movements and tendencies in which a new conception of artistic practice is articulating itself that would have its effects on the notion of the subject of art. Within the multitude of ideas in these movements and –isms, a common denominator becomes identifiable, among others.

The expressionists as well as the fauvists and cubists, but also the ventures of W. Kandinsky into the domain of abstraction, investigate, each from its own viewpoint, the possibilities of painting as an autonomous practice, an art based on the disengagement with objective reality and the development of its intrinsic pictorial instruments.

An exhibition-portrait by CastYourArt. | | text written by Cem Angeli

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