The city of the Hapsburgs, the waltz and Sachertorte, Vienna oozes an atmosphere of opulent Old World charm. From the hallowed Vienna State Opera to Schönbrunn Palace, there is no escaping the rich history of the city. But Mozart’s town is in no way stuck in the stuffy past. From a global smorgasbord up for the tasting at the Naschmarkt to a solid fashion scene, Vienna is very much in the now. Contemporary art lovers have a palette for the picking when it comes to cutting edge exhibitions.
For many art lovers, no trip to Vienna is complete without a visit to a Hundertwasser property. Kunst Haus Wien was designed from a former furniture factory based on Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser designs. Hundertwasser is known for his use of color, forms and ecological beliefs. The museum houses not only a permanent exhibition of his work (paintings, graphics, architectural designs, etc.) but also temporary exhibitions, mainly photography.
International and Austrian avant-garde is the cornerstone of Mumok, Vienna’s modern art museum. Located in the popular MuseumsQuartier area, Mumok should be a must-see on any art lover’s to-do list. The permanent collection is notable for its mix of Classic Modernism, Pop Art, Fluxus, and Viennese Actionism. Every media imaginable is represented and temporary exhibitions range from paintings to graphics to photos and film art.
Once you’ve visited Mumok, walk across the MuseumsQuartier and into Kunsthalle Wien for another art jolt. Here you can experience a range of temporary installations that could see something on Brutalist architecture, one artist’s take on language, something on experimental film or perhaps a group show centered around technology. Whatever it is, it sure to make you think. Kunsthalle Wien has a second location on Karlsplatz, a gorgeous glass cube on the grassy area of the huge square.
Housed in a building as impressive as its exhibitions, the 21er Haus is home to the Belvedere’s contemporary art collection as well as holds a number of temporary exhibitions every year. Curators place an emphasis on social relevance and multimedia expression from both Austrian and international artists. Designed by Viennese architect Karl Schwanzer for the 1958 Brussels World Expo, the building was renovated in 2007.
Leave the Vienna Ring behind and head out to the old Anker bread factory for a nice slice of contemporary art. Since 2009, galleries, showrooms and studios have taken the place of ovens in the very cool industrial complex. More than 10 different institutions call the Ankerbrotfabrik home and put on a range of shows and live performances. Art and music exhibitions are the specialty of the Kunstraum Sellemond while Galerie Photon exhibits contemporary photography.
Also of interest here is Atelier 10, a studio and gallery which gives socially disadvantaged people and those with disabilities the chance to develop their artistic talents and Lichterloh, a vintage furniture shop with exhibitions featuring Austrian design from the intra and post war periods.
In addition to a massive collection of cameras, WestLicht is one of the top places in Vienna to see the best in global photography. From photojournalism to fashion to experimental, the world’s prominent photographers, both past and present see their work displayed here. Good book shop too.
This free museum is home to the City of Vienna Cultural Department’s contemporary art collection. In addition, it also holds temporary exhibitions of young Austrian artists with the aim of giving them their first professional shows in their Start Gallery. The Artothek part of their long name is a rental service that allows people to display graphic artworks in their homes. For a historic overview of Viennese art since 1945, as well as a glimpse of the country’s up-and-coming artists put MUSA on the exhibition list.
Check what’s happening at TBA before your trip and hopefully you’ll get lucky. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary – Augarten is in the baroque Augarten park and focuses on performances and exhibitions. Summer sees a fascinating lineup of open air poetry readings, performance art and more. Exhibitions typically are focused on experimental art forms. Admission is free.
One of Vienna’s best streets for fine art galleries is Schleifmühlgasse and that’s where you’ll find the three floors of Galerie Georg Kargl. Holding mainly solo shows, the gallery exhibits a range of contemporary international artists working in many classic media.
Young Austrian and international artists are the focus of the Lukas Feichtner Gallery which shows paintings and photos as well as collages and installations. With an average of eight different shows a year, the gallery is a good place to find a unique artist.