National Gallery opens Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900

The National Gallery presents Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 an exhibition on view 9 October – 12 January 2014.

Oskar Kokoschka (1886 - 1980), Children Playing, 1909. Oil on canvas, 72 x 108 cm. Lehmbruck Museum, Duisberg (573/1965)© courtesy of Lehmbruck Museum, Duisberg / photographer: Bernd Kirtz / Fondation Oskar Kokoschka/ DACS 2013.

Oskar Kokoschka (1886 – 1980), Children Playing, 1909. Oil on canvas, 72 x 108 cm. Lehmbruck Museum, Duisberg (573/1965)© courtesy of Lehmbruck Museum, Duisberg / photographer: Bernd Kirtz / Fondation Oskar Kokoschka/ DACS 2013.


Iconic portraits from this time – by Gustav Klimt , Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka and Arnold Schönberg are displayed alongside works by important yet less widely known artists such as Broncia Koller and Isidor Kaufmann.

In contrast to their contemporaries working in Paris, Berlin and Munich, and in response to the demands of their local market, Viennese artists such as Klimt remained focused on the image of the individual. Portraits therefore dominate their production, enabling this exhibition to reconstruct the shifting identities of artists, patrons, families, friends, intellectual allies and society celebrities of this time and place.

Paintings from major collections on both sides of the Atlantic, including those that hardly ever leave the walls of the Belvedere in Vienna and MoMA in New York are shown next to rarely seen, yet remarkable images from smaller public and private collections. Most works are on canvas, though visitors will also see drawings and the haunting death masks of Gustav Klimt (1918); Ludwig van Beethoven (1827), Egon Schiele (1918) and Gustav Mahler (1911), all on loan from the Wien Museum Karlsplatz. A family photograph album belonging to Edmund de Waal, acclaimed author of ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes’ (2010) will also be exhibited. De Waal’s family were once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty centered in Vienna; this photograph memoir has been described as an ‘enchanting history lesson’.

‘Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900’ is curated by Dr. Gemma Blackshaw, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture at Plymouth and guest curator at the National Gallery. The project was conceived by Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Post-1800 Paintings at the National Gallery.

For public enquiries, please contact 020 7747 2885 or [email protected]

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