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TOP TEN THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN VIENNA IN DECEMBER

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Vienna gets lots of visitors in December and that’s not too surprising because the city is beautiful this time of year. Here’s the top 10 things you’ll want to do and see while here in December to get the most of your visit.

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    1. Visit a Christmas Market. With over 20 markets to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a list of Vienna Christmas markets from my 2014 post with links. Note that the special events have probably changed but otherwise the markets and descriptions usually stay pretty consistent year for year.
    2. Indulge in some Glühwein while at that market. For your own Glühwein recipe – check out my “How to make Glühwein” post.

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

    3. Have lunch at Cafe Central – they have what’s called a “Menü” option on the weekdays and it is usually a soup and a main meal consisting of a meat or non-meat dish and rather reasonably priced. Be sure to make reservations or you might have to wait for a table or not get one at all. You can write to them for reservations at the email address on the Cafe Central website but reservations are only valid if you receive a confirmation email (usually pretty quick response time).
    4. See the mosaic of the Last Supper. Do this after your visit to Cafe Central, since the Minoritenkirche with the mosaic is a two minute walk up the road from the Cafe.  More about this amazing piece of art work in my post: “Napoleon, Jesus and the Free Masons: the Last Supper in Vienna.”
    5. Have an authentic Austrian dinner in one of Vienna’s oldest restaurants – the Griechenbeisl. Again, reservations are a necessity. Check out my post about the Greichenbeisl restaurant entitled, “If the Walls Could Speak – A Schnitzel with Turkish Invaders, Beethoven, Twain and Johnny Cash.”

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

    6. Try a Krapfen. Don’t know what that is? Kind of like a apricot jam filled doughnut – more on the subject here: “Krapfen – Getting Fat in Honor of Fat Tuesday.”
    7. Definitely, definitely, visit a Coffeehouse to catch your breath, read a newspaper, discuss the world, and maybe even have some coffee. These two posts should help you with that: This one has a list of choice coffeehouses: “Vienna and her Coffeehouses – Sit Back and Smell the Coffee,” and this one describes a bit of the coffeehouse culture: “Place to Visit in Vienna – Coffeehouses.”
    8.  Digest some art and see some museums. Check out my post “Things to See in Vienna – Art Museums and Street Art.”

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

    9. Visit the Austrian National Treasury and check out some amazing artifacts like the legendary holy lance/ Spear of Destiny. More about that on my post:”The Holy Lance (“Spear of Destiny”) & the Power to Rule the World.”
    10. Take a stroll through the park of the Schönbrunn Castle and be sure to hike the hill behind the castle up to the gorgeous Gloriette where you can have a hot cocoa and if you’re timing is right, listen to some live piano music.
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THINGS TO SEE IN VIENNA – ART MUSEUMS AND STREET ART

Vienna’s art scene is as varied as it is extensive. You can spend the morning enjoying the graffiti-filled walls of the Danube Canal and the afternoon contemplating the works of Dürer, Monet and Klimt. Below are some of the city’s choice locations:

Upper Belvedere Castle

Boasting not just The Kiss, but the world’s lar­gest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, and with a gorgeous view of the Vienna skyline, the Belvedere offers the perfect location for works of art.

View of Vienna from Upper Belvedere

View of Vienna from Upper Belvedere

Albertina

View the works of the world’s most famous impressionist and post-impressionist artists such as Monet, Renoir, and Cézanne as well as several Picasso paintings. The Albertina is also home to famous works by Dürer, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bruegel the Elder Rubens, Warhol, Liechtenstein, and… Well. You get the picture. Tip: buy your ticket online at the www.albertina.at websi­te and avoid the queue when you get there.

Cafe at the Museum of Art History, Vienna

Cafe at the Museum of Art History, Vienna

Leopold Museum

This is the place for Austrian works of art –Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, and more. In addition, the Museum Quarter, where the museum is located, is a great place to chill out and also offers free wireless.

Vienna Museum of Art History

Wide marble staircases, intricate floor tile designs, and vibrant ceiling paintings combine to give the museum the grand opulence of the works it houses. Some well-known pieces you’ll find here include Bruegel the Elder’s Tower of Babel, Rubens’ The Four Great Rivers of Antiquity, and Vermeer’s The Art of Painting.

Secession

The Golden Cabbage’s founders, a group of young Viennese artists, wanted to make a bold statement with the museum, inside and out, and let the world know they had no intention of painting cherubs and fruit baskets. One of those artists was Gustav Klimt, who contributed the museum’s most famous attraction — the Beethoven Frieze.

Donaukanal Artwork

Graffiti on side of container in sculpture garden along Donaukanal (across from Urania)

Danube Canal

Stroll along the Danube Canal and take in both Austrian and international graffiti – from very talented and novice artists alike – featured from the Schottenring subway station (Herminengasse exit) all the way down past Schwedenplatz.

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THE FREEDOM OF ART IS THE ONLY GUARANTEE FOR THE FREEDOM OF HUMANKIND

Art is a metaphor for immortality. – Ernst Fuchs

After 31,315 days on this earth, Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs passed away at the age of 85. Over a year ago, some friends and I visited the Fuchs villa where the artist lived and exhibited his work.

Professor Ernst Fuchs was one of the leading figures in the Viennese School of Painting ”Fantastic realism.“ For him art was more than a way to creatively expressive oneself, it was an essential power of peace and liberation:

Art is, despite its dynamic and that of its supporters’ own egocentricity, always a peacemaking power. We know it, we’ve learned it and from this knowledge we exercise the liberating, the healing power of art. It is exactly for this reason that all craziness has to become art, all politics and every intention that is focused on improving the conditions of human existence, should manifest itself artistically. The only positive revolution that has a chance to permanently liberate humankind and to stimulate is the works of artists. The freedom of art is the only guarantee for the freedom of humankind, this freedom is therefore also the first, which a populace is forced to sacrifice, when a tyrant comes and wants to rule.

Jesus Ernst Fuchs Painting

Jesus Ernst Fuchs Painting

(translation: KC Blau)

German original:
Kunst ist trotz ihrer Dynamik und der ihren Trägern eigenen Egozentrik immer eine Frieden stiftende Kraft. Wir wissen es, wir haben es gelernt und wir praktizieren aus dieser Kenntnis die befreiende, die heilende Kraft der Kunst. Darum muss aller Wahnsinn Kunst

Ernst Fuchs Room in Villa with Paintings and Designs

Ernst Fuchs Room in Villa with Paintings and Designs

werden, alle Politik und jeder Wille, der sich auf die Verbesserung der Daseinsbedingungen des Menschen richtet, sollte kunstvoll sich manifestieren. Die einzig positive Revolution, die eine Chance hat, permanent den Menschen zu befreien und zu befruchten, ist das Wirken der Künstler. Die Freiheit der Kunst ist der einzige Garant der Freiheit des Menschen; diese Freiheit ist daher auch die erste, die ein Volk gezwungen wird aufzugeben, wenn ein Tyrann kommt, es zu beherrschen.

Read more about Ernst Fuchs at my post about a visit to his museum: Are you are Lebenskünstler? Or just a Connoisseur of the Art of Living?

RIP Ernst Fuchs – indeed, art is a metaphor for immortality and you will surely continue on in your art.

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Wally Neuzil and Egon Schiele

“Declare today on January 8, 1913, that I am not in love with anyone in the world. Wally” (“Sage heute am 8. Jänner 1913, dass ich in niemanden auf der Welt verliebt bin. Wally.“) – written by Wally Neuzil in the 3rd sketch book of Egon Schiele, page 39, January 8, 1913.

Print This Post A young girl of 11 years loses her father. Frau Mama has no steady job and there are also the three younger sisters and Oma to consider. Three generations of ladies pack up their meager belongings and move to the big city. Maybe there’s more work and better luck there.

School’s out of the question. After all she can read and write. The family needs to eat and a place to sleep. Over 16 registered addresses in six years. She finds odd jobs and by age 16, she becomes a model for a young artist named Egon. Not the most respectable work but Egon is kind of cute and pays better than most.

Wally in Red Blouse

“Wally with a Red Blouse with Raised Knees” Painting by Egon Schiele – private collection (image from Wikicommons)

He’s 21 years old. Long pronounced fingers stained in color and a somewhat sad face. Maybe it’s all who failed to understand him and his methods. The Gymnasium teachers. The professors at the art academy. But Klimt is encouraging. And Arthur Roessler supports his pursuit.

His style? Provocative. Sensual. Revolutionary. Controversial.

Scandalous? Indecent? Illegal?

Egon Schiele - Lovers

“Lovers” – painting by Egon Schiele (featuring probably Wally) 1913, Leopold Private Collection (image from Wikicommons)

While proper ladies of society cloak themselves in layers of social acceptability and tradition, he scours the lanes of Park Schönbrunn to find those who will help him strip away the facade and bare all for his brush.

Pornography? Art?

The lines blur.

Muse? Model? Partner?

Blur.

Modern or Criminal? Let the judge decide.

Captivity. Hope is orange. Love helps to overcome the darkest hours.

Liberation. He paints. He paints her. How many portraits? Sketches? Alone. Together. Sitting. Lying. Standing. Open. Closed. On. Off.

And then.

There yonder. Across the way. A proper family. Father, mother, two daughters. Church on Sunday. Lunch at noon. Curfews. Chaperones.

A place for him in society. And for her? He pens a note to Roessler on February 16, 1915. His eyes only.

“I’m planning to marry – most advantageously – perhaps not Wally.”

Perhaps not Wally. Perhaps not Wally? Perhaps not Wally!

Kneeling Wally

Kneeling Wally with Grey Dress – Painting by Egon Schiele – 1912 Leopold Museum (image from Wikicommons)

And to whom does he suggest to rendezvous each year for a week – most advantageously?

Wally, perhaps?

Perhaps not Egon.

A war is raging. Nurses are needed.

An opportunity. To work. To eat. To leave. Him. Vienna. For good.

She goes.

She dies.

Scarlet fever.

Aged 21.

A century passes. She perseveres. Forever young, forever seductively liberated and united with her artist – not for an annual rendezvous of love and debauchery – but for an eternity in the soul of his works.

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***

Exhibition: “Wally Neuzil and Her Life with Egon Schiele” – February 2 – June 1, 2015, Leopold Museum: http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en.

If you speak German, I highly recommend the Sunday tours at 3 pm. My guide this past Sunday was an expert on Turn of the Century Vienna, gave lots of fascinating details and background info. The tours are free if you have an entrance ticket. Just tell the information desk next to the ticket counter you’d like to go along.

Also, there is an Audio Guide available (in English and German) and a book about Wally and Schiele (in German).

Read more on Egon Schiele on the artsy.net Schiele page.

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