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CITY AND LANDSCAPE. BETWEEN DREAM AND REALITY. An exhibition opening from the Albertina Museum in Vienna

Category: Exhibition 13. May 2021

With 170 works from its own holdings, the Albertina presents a grandiose panorama of five centuries of city and landscape views; some of the works have not been on public view for decades.

Curated by Eva Michel, the show is arranged both chronologically and geographically, repeatedly revealing how the conception of city and landscape views changed through the ages and how it varied between idealism and realism. In the Middle Ages, paintings served sacred purposes, where backgrounds and landscapes played a minor role, only with the beginning of the modern era this changed.

The majority of the works on display come from the collection of Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen (1738-1822), the founder of the Albertina collection, whose collecting interests were primarily landscape drawings of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The exhibition begins in the 15th and 16th centuries with Bruegel, Dürer (with watercolors of "Isprug" -Innsbruck, created during his trip to Italy around 1495), or Albrecht Altdorfer ("The Great Spruce").

The 17th century is considered "the golden age of landscape", especially in the Netherlands: here the Albertina presents the absolute highlights of the show with landscape depictions, seascapes, and winter scenes by the Dutch masters.

The French Rococo with idylls and ancient motifs by Francois Boucher or forest views by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain form a special show value. From the 18th century and its "architectural fantasies" the views of Venice, for example by Canaletto or Francesco Tironi are quite impressive.

When the influence of man and industrialization on nature became evident, a changed view of reality was also formed. The "nature in change" is thematized by Karl Postl, Heinrich Theodor Wehle or Jacob Wilhelm Mechau. Key works of the romantic landscape (Caspar David Friedrich) but also Renoir show the enormous range of the collection.

A familiar sight for many Viennese art lovers will probably be the Austrian watercolor art of the 19th century, such as Rudolf and Jakob von Alt's views of Vienna (Jakob Alt's famous "View of Vienna from the Spinner at the Cross" from 1817).

Towards the end of the tour, having arrived in the modern era, there are prints by Alfred Kubin and van Gogh, watercolors by Cézanne, Egon Schiele's "Old Houses in Krumau", interpretations of the modern metropolis by Lyonel Feininger and abstractions of the image of nature by Paul Klee, August Macke or Emil Nolde.

In all these nature paintings, vedute, topographies and seascapes of the last 5 centuries can be seen which tendencies and currents social change, progress, science and industrialization triggered in the development of this genre: Idealization and realism, romanticism and classicism, belief in progress and pessimism -the change of artistic views on reality reflects the developments in occidental cultural history. (written by Cem Angeli)

The exhibition continues until August 22. 2021

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