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.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Sting to perform, receive honour at American Music Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Sting will hit the stage at the American Music Awards next month, and the icon will receive a special honour for his successful career. Dick Clark Productions said Monday that Sting will receive The American Music Award of Merit on Nov. Source
  • The Walking Dead premiere reveals Negan's victim

    Entertainment CBC News
    SPOILER ALERT: Story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere The Walking Dead has returned with a bloody bang as the victim of bat-wielding bad guy Negan was revealed in the seventh season's premiere. Source
  • Director Tim Miller quits 'Deadpool 2' over issues with Ryan Reynolds

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Director Tim Miller has left Deadpool 2 after creative differences with the movie’s star, Ryan Reynolds. Miller, who directed Deadpool, has parted ways with film studio Fox after butting heads with Reynolds over certain issues relating to the sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Source
  • Bob Dylan called 'arrogant' by Nobel Prize member

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Bob Dylan’s failure to acknowledge his Nobel Prize for literature is “impolite and arrogant”, according to a member of the prize-giving body. The 75-year-old singer became the first songwriter to be awarded the prize last week, when the Nobel panel experts praised him for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Source
  • Actress Shailene Woodley faces January trial in pipeline protest

    Entertainment CTV News
    MANDAN, N.D. -- Actress Shailene Woodley is to stand trial in North Dakota early next year on charges related to her protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. Woodley was among 27 activists arrested Oct. Source
  • Paris exhibition explores fashion's shocks and scandals through the ages

    Entertainment CTV News
    The French capital's Musée des Arts Décoratifs explores scandals and transgressions in clothing from the 14th century to the present day in an exhibition entitled "Tenue correcte exigée, quand le vêtement fait scandale" (Appropriate dress required: when clothing causes a scandal), from December 1, 2016, to April 23, 2017. Source
  • Justin Bieber storms off stage over screaming girls

    Entertainment CTV News
    Pop star Justin Bieber apparently doesn't always like the sound of screaming girls at his concerts. Bieber lost his patience in a bizarre moment on stage Sunday in Manchester, when he tossed the microphone away and walked off amid boos from his fans. Source
  • Watch Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn dance to Beyonce's 'Formation'

    Entertainment CTV News
    What do you do if you've got some down time on the film set you're shooting with Goldie Hawn, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack? When you're Amy Schumer, you shoot a parody music video to Beyonce's "Formation. Source
  • DJ Khaled and fiancee welcome baby boy on Snapchat

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- It's a boy for music producer DJ Khaled and his fiancee Nicole Tuck, who welcomed their first child into the world early Sunday morning. Khaled chronicled the birth in a series of snapchats showing the inside of the delivery room where he can be heard telling the doctor that "it's go time. Source
  • Shakespeare will share credit for Henry VI plays with Marlowe

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON — Oxford University Press says its new edition of William Shakespeare's works will co-credit Christopher Marlowe on the three Henry VI plays. The decision announced Monday for the upcoming edition comes after a team of scholars using modern analytical methods revisited the question of whether Shakespeare collaborated with others. Source