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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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READY TO LIFEBALL

Just as only a lover can reveal to a man what life means to him and develop its innermost significance… – Austrian writer Hermann Bahr, 1901, in his “Speech on Klimt” describing Klimt’s artwork.

Gearing up for Vienna’s 2015 LifeBall

Print This Post “Dress – good buy. Worn once. Wedding.” The taxi driver gave me a thumbs up and pocketed my Euros. One thing was sure, he was happy to see that thing go.

Second sure thing, if gowns could talk, this one would have tales to tell because it was going to the Lifeball. With me!

This year’s theme? GOLD – VER SACRUM ala Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt.

Gold Accessories for Lifeball

Gold Accessories for Lifeball

Klimt! The name “…intimately associated in the art-lover’s mind with sensuous lines, erotic and beautiful women, and decorative golden detail.” (Essential Klimt)

After the confirmation that I had accomplished the next-to-impossible task of securing a ticket, I moved into action mode. That evening I charged head first into Willhaben’s “Abendkleid” collection, scouring countless computer screens and hundreds of gowns. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, my weary eyes in blurred determination spotted it like a fata morgana on a distant horizon — a flowing toga-looking dress bearing a bold gold sash and dotted with gold spheres destined for Gustav’s magic.

Close of Gown

Close of Gown

Next stop, basement of Libro in a hunt for fabric paints (don’t kids do crafts anymore?).

A kitchen table, a bottle of nail polish remover, 99 cent paintbrushes and a Klimt coffeetable book of art I had scored a few years ago for half price at Borders in North Carolina and I was set. I am no artist, but the lights in Vienna’s City Hall were bound to be forgiving. Or the alcohol flowing. Or both. Let’s face it, by midnight, all Cinderellas will have hurried home and every man, woman and Conchita is stunning in any costume.

Contrary to other Vienna balls, come 1 am at the Lifeball, it’s not just the ladies kicking off their heels to jam in their stockings, it’s the guys too. In fact, the entire night, you’re getting sympathetic nods, as they too adjust their mascara, dab some clear nail polish on the run in their ‘hose, and duck into a corner to readjust their bra straps.

Faschingsprinz

Gold Glam at Vienna’s Faschingsprinz – perfect of Lifeball accessories

“Hmm Hmm Hmmm giiirl! Where did you get such a sassy hair feather? That so accentuates the azure in that gown!” OK. Maybe the German version of that. But you get the idea. And hey! Maybe not. Because the Lifeball is without bounds and without borders. Folks are from anywhere and everywhere. And you won’t know if they are black, white, grey, brown, yellow or polka-dotted green. Speak German, English or Swahili. You also won’t know if they are homosexuals, heterosexuals, transsexuals, asexuals or what-ever. Are they male, female, neither or both? You won’t know. Because no one cares. Everyone is there to have fun, party, celebrate and raise money for a good cause. So get with the program!

Amongst this crowd, if you don’t want to blend into the background like a sparrow in a parade of peacocks, you better go for the gold and accessorize.

Fortunately, I live in the district with probably the very best shop in town for Lifeball needs – Faschingsprinz. Don’t judge this shop by its website. They seem to have last updated their important events list in 2010, but I’m sure that’s just because they’re too busy uniting creative customers with their artistic needs. No idea where to start with your Lifeball outfit? Go there. And if you’re tempted by those sparkling red no-place-like home heels, go for it. They’re bound to match someone’s leather outfit.

Armed with leis of golden flowers and sparkly Egyptian style eye make up damning me to hours of mirror time, I headed home to pimp up my parade.

Lifeball 2014

Lifeball 2014

Full Gown for Lifeball

Full Gown for Lifeball

By midnight, pleased my gown project didn’t end in disaster (I have a low success threshold when it comes to creative projects), I was sleep-deprived enough to convince myself that the smock-donning man who was still inspiring multitudes with his beautiful works of art almost a hundred years after his death would have forgiven my attempt to emulate his technique — considering it was for a good cause. But even at that hour I seriously doubted he would have exhibited the thrilled enthusiasm of the taxi driver husband who was so eager to get the gown gone that he offered to perform a home delivery on a Craigslist sale item. A good buy. A very good buy.

Friends have asked why I would want to go to a ball alone. Truth is, I only got one ticket so it wasn’t really a decision. Sure it’d be a blast to go with some friends but if last year’s ball is any indication, I’m not worried.

At the Lifeball there are no sparrows, only peacocks. And I will just sync my step with the suicidal stilettos, shiny heels, sensible sandals and ripped stockings of my fellow Dorothies dreaming of a better place somewhere over the rainbow. That in Vienna, year for year, exists for an entire amazing night. Because beyond the gold, flash, and pizazz is a celebration of “life’s innermost significance” – what distinguishes but unites us. No matter color, creed or sexual orientation. Everyone coming together in a night of awesomeness to fight HIV and AIDs and celebrate life.

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Sparkly Red Shoes

Shoes from Faschingsprinz high and sparkly enough to transport anyone over a rainbow

And I’m ready. Ready to Lifeball.

And maybe get a selfie with Conchita Wurst!

KC’s 2014 Lifeball Good Times and Memories: Celebrating Life in the Garden of Earthly Delights

Vienna Lifeball: Vienna’s City Hall (Rathaus)

Saturday, May 16, 2015
Ball Opening: 9:30 pm
Entrances: Open as of 7:30 pm
The Vienna Ringstrasse will be closed Saturday evening from Schwarzenbergplatz to Schottentor from 6 pm – 11:30 pm.

Don’t have a ball ticket?

Come to the Rathaus (U2 Schottentor or Rathaus) and admire the costumes as ball guests enter the ball parading down the red carpet to the Vienna City Hall.

Want a preview of what’s to come? Check out the Lifeball Style Bible – Klimt’s paintings staged with live models – a feast for the eyes! No wonder the man caused a ruckus when he opted to stop painting the cherubs and go for something a bit more modern – over 100 years ago!

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Would Klimt have been a Graffiti Artist? Vienna’s Donaukanal

To every time, its art, to every art, its freedom.
(Der Zeit ihre Kunst, der Kunst ihre Freiheit)
– Motto of the Vienna Seccessionist artists, beginning of 20th Century

 Young, controversial, revolutionary and fired up to smash the bonds of society’s conventions. Art should be freely accessible to all social and economic classes. The more shocking, the better.

Over 100 years ago, Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists fought for freedom of self-expression. Gustav Klimt went from creating classical paintings like Shakespeare’s Globe Theater on ceiling murals of Vienna’s Burgtheater to hair-raising depictions of sparsely-clothed, sexually-aroused figures like Judith in the throes of her climatic ecstasy clutching the disambiguated head of Nebuchadnezzar’s general, Holofernes, against her exposed breast in Judith.

Vienna has a long history of attracting groundbreaking artists and controversial bohemians. While the conservative Viennese can initially act reluctant to embrace new things, they are likewise rather good at not taking their ambivalence too seriously.  At the turn of the century, the Austrian government supported the talented and rebellious Klimt and his Secessionists friends with a lease of public land  to erect an exhibition hall for their work. The building, which the Viennese sometimes refer to as the “Golden Cabbage” remains today as a museum for modern art at the end of the Wollzeile – the Secession.

Perhaps for this reason it’s not so surprising that the Austrian government has made a similar gesture to the young, controversial, revolutionary artists of our generation – the graffiti artists, by granting them Vienna’s blessing to spray certain public areas.

Where?

wienerwand

wienerwand

Look for a sign with a pigeon and the words “Wienerwand” (Vienna Wall). If you’re like me and can’t find the sign, here’s some help — Vienna allows graffiti at the Nordbrücke, Nußdorfer and Roßauer Lände, am Yppenplatz and in Eßling AND, in my neck of woods — the Donaukanal.

So let’s grab an ice-cream at Schwedenplatz, take a nice cool stroll along the canal and admire the artwork of this generation’s radical philosopher-artists.

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Where? Donaukanal at the Schottenring (U2/U4 – exit Herminengasse) Station.

List of spray okay areas in Vienna: http://www.wienerwand.at/

More Reading:

Austrian daily paper – der Standard, article from March 18, 2014, from Michael Hierner, “Wo Graffiti-Sprayen erlaubt ist” (Where Graffiti Spraying is Allowed) http://derstandard.at/1395056926054/Total-legal-Wo-Graffiti-Sprayen-tatsaechlich-erlaubt-ist?_slide=1

Fotos of Vienna’s Graffiti: http://spraycity.at/?p=gallery&b=wien&c=hall&t=donaukanal&a=14

List of Places in Austria where Graffiti is legal: http://www.oesterreich-info.at/themen/graffiti.htm

“Stadt als Leinwand” – article from Sabine Karrer, July 18, 2013, Wiener Zeitung: http://www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/wien/stadtleben/561855_Stadt-als-Leinwand.html

Mein Bezirk (my district) – links to graffiti art: http://www.meinbezirk.at/themen/donaukanal+graffiti.html

Graffiti of Donaukanal from 2008 (Photos from Philipp Balga) http://pippone.carbonmade.com/projects/2170017#1

Austrian artist, Ernst Fuchs, also a revolutionary

Artsy.net: Gustav Klimt page

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