Vienna museum to display damaged art in fundraising effort

Would you pay to see art that's broken, mouldy or eaten by worms?

Vienna's famous Leopold Museum sure hopes so.

See Full Article

The prestigious home of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele is displaying damaged artworks to raise funds for their restoration.

Around 185 pieces by Austrian artists, ranging from turn-of-the-century paintings to Art Deco chairs and lamps, are part of the unconventional Hidden Treasures exhibition.

Some, like Robert Russ's 1885 "Mill with Evening Sky", reveal damaging tears in the canvas or heavily flaking paint.

Other forlorn pieces of artwork include a delicate porcelain figurine with its head missing, and the panel of an oil painting by Cecil van Haanen fallen victim to hungry woodworms.

"Usually you go to the museum to admire works in perfect condition. Here, we are showing the dark side of our collection," the Leopold's new director, Hans-Peter Wipplinger, told AFP in a recent interview.

Boasting around 6,000 pieces, the museum has gained global fame for its outstanding array of 19th and 20th-century Austrian art.

Renowned highlights include paintings by the founder of Vienna's Secession movement, Gustav Klimt, and his protege Egon Schiele whose permanent exhibition at the museum is the largest of its kind in the world.

But the Leopold's collection also contains many lesser known gems that deserve to see the light of day again, according to Wipplinger.

"When I took on my role (in October 2015), one of the first things I did was to visit the museum's storage. I discovered a number of works worthy of being exhibited, but that were too damaged," he said.

'Must be special'

The museum needs a total of 370,000 euros (US$400,000) to restore the artworks -- a sum that largely exceeds the institution's available funds.

"That's how I got the idea of finding patrons willing to finance the repairs," Wipplinger explained.

Mould from exposure to dampness, rusty metal parts, bent frames, bad touch-ups: the exhibition, which runs until February 22, illustrates the spoils and damages an artwork can suffer over the years.

"It's also about showing the public all the work and technical know-how required to present a piece in mint condition," Wipplinger said.

Many of the works have never been publicly shown, including rare Art Nouveau furniture by Koloman Moser, a co-founder of the illustrious Wiener Werkstaette arts collective.

Some paintings are in a fairly good state but too frail to travel.

"Other museums often ask to borrow them, but they first have to be restored to survive the journey," noted the Leopold director.

Repair costs range from 300 to 13,200 euros ($330 to 14,600) with some paintings like Klimt's "Life and Death" -- part of the museum's permanent collection -- merely requiring new protective glazing.

In recognition of their support, patrons will see their name displayed on a small card next to the work they helped finance.

At the exhibition's launch in late January, an elegant visitor in his sixties revealed he had flown in especially from Cyprus for the event

"I'm willing to spend money if I have a fancy for something -- but it needs to be special," the man, who only identified himself as Wolfgang, told AFP with a wink.

Looted Nazi art

The museum which opened in 2001 is the brainchild of Rudolf Leopold, a visionary collector who began buying up Klimt and Schiele paintings in the aftermath of World War II, at a time when many considered the Austrian artists already outdated.

In 2010, the institution made worldwide headlines when it reached a $19-million settlement with a Jewish art dealer's estate in the United States over Schiele's "Portrait of Wally", a masterpiece stolen by the Nazis.

U.S. officials had seized the work in 1997 while it was on loan in New York.

It was only returned to the Leopold after the museum agreed to the payout.

While the dust in that affair has since settled, the museum is still in negotiations with Austria's Jewish Community over several other Schiele drawings which were also looted by the Nazis during the Second World War.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Renaming of Emily Carr painting spurs debate about reconciliation in art

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- The painting depicts a colonial structure in an Indigenous setting, but it's the name of the work that's spurred a debate about how the art world should address reconciliation. The Art Gallery of Ontario has renamed a painting by Canadian artist Emily Carr as part of a broader effort to eliminate culturally insensitive language from titles in its collection, a curator says. Source
  • 'Roseanne' ends season with a hopeful note as storms brew

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The reboot of "Roseanne" ended the season Tuesday with a flood, a feast and a prayer. It was a hopeful climax to a show that's been popular and yet also divisive. Roseanne Barr, who plays the titular character on the hit ABC show, which airs in Canada on CTV, plans to go to the hospital for knee surgery when her family surprises her with a goodbye meal that includes ham, cake and casserole. Source
  • Author Philip Roth dead at 85

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Philip Roth, the prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of "Portnoy's Complaint" to the elegiac lyricism of "American Pastoral," died Tuesday night at age 85. Source
  • Philip Roth, fearless and celebrated author, dies at 85

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Philip Roth, the prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of "Portnoy's Complaint" to the elegiac lyricism of "American Pastoral," died Tuesday night at age 85. Source
  • Woman accuses R. Kelly of sex abuse

    Entertainment CBC News
    A woman has filed a lawsuit against R. Kelly, accusing the singer of sexual battery, knowingly infecting her with herpes and locking her in rooms for punishment. Faith Rodgers says in the suit filed Monday in New York that she met Kelly about a year ago after a concert in San Antonio, Texas. Source
  • Watchdog group calls on Netflix to pull 13 Reasons Why

    Entertainment CBC News
    A media watchdog group is calling on Netflix to pull its 13 Reasons Why series because of potentially harmful content. The Parents Television Council describes the second season of the series as "a ticking time bomb to teens and children. Source
  • GLAAD study finds LGBTQ representation in film fell in 2017

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Despite high-profile Oscar wins for art house films like "Call Me By Your Name" and "A Fantastic Woman," LGBTQ representation in films from the seven biggest Hollywood studios fell significantly in 2017 according to a study released Tuesday by the advocacy organization GLAAD. Source
  • Kathy Griffin keeping her head up with world comedy tour

    Entertainment CTV News
    Comedian Kathy Griffin is turning to the friendly grounds of Canada for her world redemption tour after landing squarely in the crosshairs of U.S. President Donald Trump, Trump nation, and even her own mother. Griffin, 57, found herself in hot water last year when she posted a mock photo of herself with a ketchup-drenched Halloween mask made to look like the severed head of Donald Trump. Source
  • Why the Art Gallery of Ontario removed 'Indian' from the name of this Emily Carr painting

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Art Gallery of Ontario has scrubbed the word "Indian" from the title of a painting by the late Canadian artist Emily Carr, because "that is a word that causes pain," curator Georgiana Uhlyarik says. Source
  • Judge authorizes class-action against former impresario Gilbert Rozon

    Entertainment CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec Superior Court has authorized a class-action lawsuit against former Just For Laughs head Gilbert Rozon. Several women sought permission last fall to file the suit against the co-founder of the popular comedy festival for alleged sexual assault and harassment. Source