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WONDERLAND. Opening and exhibition-view from the Albertina Modern in Vienna

Category: Exhibition 2. June 2021

The exhibition, whose title is borrowed from a painting by Fiona Rae, could well be a combination of several independent exhibitions with diverse cross-connections and references in terms of its richness of content - it is, after all, an overview of the essential currents in modern art, which at the same time reflects the enormous spectrum of the Albertina's collection. The show is made up of about one third of the Essl collection, plus that of Haselsteiner and Batliner, but new acquisitions and gifts from artists are also represented.

In seven chapters - without chronology - the show, curated by Angela Stief and Klaus Albrecht Schrˆder, presents and contrasts diverse artistic positions in various rooms.

In an overview of modernism, there is probably no way around Pop Art, so in addition to the aforementioned Fiona Rae, the tour begins with Andy Warhol, including his series of Mao and the Campbell soup cans. Also large-scale works by Roy Lichtenstein with interesting mirror effects or Alex Katz with "Chance", life-size figures in beach clothes cut out of paintings, welcome the visitor with strong impressions.

In the same room there is "Neo Pop" such as the extra-large matchstick by Harold Ancart or the humorous sculpture of fornicating skeletons by Marc Quinn.

Dedicated to the "anarchy of art" is the space shared by the artist group Gelitin, Franz West and Erwin Wurm. Gelitin's plasticine interpretation of the Mona Lisa or Franz West's bright red seating sculpture are likely to cause many an irritation here.

In the central hall, there is an overview of the great calibers of German painting, many of whom have dedicated their art to a critical examination of German history: Baselitz, Penck, Anselm Kiefer, Jˆrg Immendorff and Markus L¸pertz, confronted with interesting sculptures by the Israeli artist Ofer Lellouche.

As if to challenge his assertion, Georg Baselitz, who said "that women cannot paint," is juxtaposed in a large hall with Maria Lassnig and her Body Awareness paintings. How the confrontation turns out, each visitor will decide for himself.

A corner room is dedicated to large-format black-and-white portrait photographs by Gottfried Helnwein, with the expressive likenesses of Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Keith Haring and Clint Eastwood - as well as a mask-like Andy Warhol.

Albert Oehlen's strong neo-expressionist mixed-media paintings are given an entire room, while Markus Schinwald and Franz Zadrazil with his morbidly humorous house fronts share another. In another room, under the title "Melancholy of Loneliness," paintings by Christian Brandl and the artist duo Muntean / Rosenblum are delightfully juxtaposed.

In the exhibition comprising 120 very different high-caliber works, worlds and counter-worlds of utopia and dystopia, figuration and abstraction, political position and humor, melancholy and expressionism, painting, photography and sculpture open up to the viewer.

In the spirit of Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland - in the realm of art, even the crazy and the impossible become possible. (written by Cem Angeli)

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