VIENNA. From 1 July 2016, after 17 years, the Essl Museum (An der Donau-Au 1) will be ceasing its exhibition activity. Up to this date all planned events and exhibitions will still take place. In addition, a grand finale will be organised, with Open Days and comprehensive art-education programmes, announced essl.museum.
„The Essl family has financed the building of the Essl Museum and all current costs for the operation and exhibitions from its own funds for 17 years. Unfortunately this is now no longer possible. For the continued operation of the Essl Museum additional sources of funding or public-sector support would have been necessary. The province of Lower Austria had announced that it would have been willing to provide an essential contribution if the central government were to provide the same level of funding. Unfortunately there has been no positive commitment from the central government. I am very sorry, but this situation now forces us to cease exhibition activity. So from July 2016 the Essl Collection will no longer be visible for the public; yet it remains unaffected by the cessation of exhibition activity. The Essl Museum will continue to be used as a depot for the Essl Collection, which has been an important task of the house since 1999. As before, the collection will be well looked after. Archive, conservation department, art handling and facility management will be maintained. The international loan activity remains in place. I would like to thank with all my heart the numerous visitors, artists and collaborators who for many years have made this museum an open, exciting and beautiful place of art and dialogue,” said Prof. Karlheinz Essl.
The Rendezvous and Body & Soul exhibitions, with significant works from the Essl Collection, will run until 30 June. On 4 May the final exhibition will be opened in the Essl Museum, which will also run until 30 June. The eSeL Collection is a participative exhibition project by the Viennese art networker, knowledge producer and artist Lorenz Seidler, alias eSeL, and displays a collage spanning several rooms, in which the Viennese art scene of the past 15 years is addressed.
In the coming weeks there will be further publications accompanying the two last major collection exhibitions, Rendezvous and Body & Soul, as well as publications on the history of the Essl Museum.
The Essl Museum is taking its leave with a grand finale featuring three exhibitions, numerous art-education programmes, concerts and lectures. The museum will remain open at its usual hours until 30 June (Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., free admission from 6 p.m.). The Open Days will take place from 24 to 30 June with free admission (daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., also on Monday, 27 June).
The exhibition Body & Soul
What attitude do we take today vis-à-vis our body and sexuality? In the 20th century, Western society revolutionised and redefined its relationship with the body, but also brought problematic aspects to light. Artists reflected these developments, of course, particularly after 1945. Post-war Austria saw the head-on confrontation between hypocritical sexual morals and far-reaching denial and sub-culture avant-gardes striving to overcome these obstacles. Vienna Actionism, a movement that produced art which still has the power to shock, is now considered one of the most significant achievements of Austrian art. Body & Soul is devoted to a subject widely represented in the Essl Collection, the human body in all its facets.
The exhibition places the topic in a wider social context and traces its evolution up to the present. The human body may serve as platform for the expression of inner states and feelings, as exemplified by Maria Lassnig’s body awarenes paintings; it can be a metaphor for metaphysical notions, or, as in Marc Quinn’s sculpture Allison Lapper, it may celebrate beauty beyond social norms.
Curator: Andreas Hoffer
The exhibition Rendezvous -
Masterpieces from the Essl Collection
Sometimes a date or rendezvous can ignite an exceptional story, as was the case with the initial meeting of Agnes and Karlheinz Essl in 1959 in New York. They immediately became a couple and enjoyed their first encounters with contemporary art in the fascinating metropolis on their dates which took them to the museums and galleries of New York. This was the origin of their love for art which soon became a passion: The beginning of the Essl Collection.
Rendezvous. Masterpieces from the Essl Collection, the major show of collection holdings in 2016, features a rendezvous between central works and artists from the Essl Collection. Austrian and international artists meet, sometimes in surprising constellations.
Actual romantic rendezvous like the ones Maria Lassnig and Arnulf Rainer had in the 1950s in Paris come upon imaginary What-if encounters: Max Weiler meets Cecily Brown, Martha Jungwirth has a date with Asger Jorn, and Kurt Kocherscheidt with Antoni Tàpies.
Far Eastern philosophies with their focus on reduction influenced not only Hans Bischoffshausen, Georges Mathieu and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, but also the aforementioned Rainer and Lassnig. Encounters with the archaic and the primal bring together such divergent artists as Kurt Kocherscheidt, Antoni Tàpies, Hermann Nitsch and Eduardo Chillida.
Nature’s creation is the focal point for Max Weiler and Per Kirkeby, the painterly process of transformation connects Weiler with the much younger artist Cecily Brown. Other meetings celebrate the spontaneous, unbound act of painting valued by the artists of COBRA.
The last room of the exhibition hosts a rendezvous with an unknown outcome with works chosen by friends of the Essl Museum. The first selection will be made by the collectors Agnes and Karlheinz Essl, a profession of love to art…
Curator: Andreas Hoffer
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The eSeL Collection
The Essl Museum Laboratory will be inaugurated by a project designed by the Viennese art networker, knowledge producer and artist Lorenz Seidler aka eSeL. The eSeL Collection documents and reflects on the world of art on the basis of eSeL’s comprehensive archives: information on and documentation of exhibitions from the last 15 years, many boxes filled with leaflets and many terabytes of data will be arranged to form an interactive exhibition setting. With the help of a many-layered timeline, The eSeL Collection provides an insight in current developments and dynamic trends in an increasingly interrelated world of art, explores the changes in conditions underlying art production and investigates new challenges and the future potential of contemporary art. Individual focus areas are highlighted by selected eSeL projects from the last 15 years. eSeL’s photographic oeuvre, which is devoted to the art scene and its protagonists, will be presented in large formats. „Art is the product of communication!” - visitors will have the opportunity to contribute actively by adding their own observations on the development of art in the last 15 years. On several days, eSeL himself will attend the laboratory and change and expand the setting of the collection together with the visitors.
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The Essl Collection is one of the most important collections of Austrian art since 1945 and one of the significant collections of contemporary art in Europe. In the collection, Austrian art is found in great variety and depth and is put in an international context, which allows observation of trends and connections in the international art scene.
The collection was built by Agnes and Karlheinz Essl. For over 50 years, they have accompanied the careers and lives of Austrian and international artists – for them, direct interaction with the artists is a crucial point of collecting.
The main focus of the collection is Austrian Art from 1945 with works by artists like Maria Lassnig, VALIE EXPORT, Arnulf Rainer, Max Weiler, Markus Prachensky, the artist of the Viennese Actionism like Hermann Nitsch and Günter Brus, new painting of the 1980s to the younger generation of Austrian artists such as Elke Krystufek and Deborah Sengl.
Nowadays, the Essl collection is a significant cultural heritage of Austrian art since the second World War (1939-1945).
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The Essl Museum is one of the main architectural works by Austrian architect and holder of the Austrian State Prize Heinz Tesar. The museum was built in 1999 and presents the completion of Tesar’s unique architectural design vocabulary.
The Essl Museum is home to works of the Essl collection and holds an exhibition space of 3.200 sqm.