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Posts from the ‘Art’ Category


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


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 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.


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.



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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Music is the most potent instrument in education because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.   – Plato

Print This Post On September 30, 1791, two years after the French Revolution, The Magic Flute premiered in Vienna. To work on what would be his last and one of his most celebrated pieces, Mozart temporarily moved in with Emanuel Schikaneder, the man who penned the libretto of The Magic Flute and also happened to be a fellow member of “Zur Wohltätigkeit,” Mozart’s masonic lodge. The opera opened to much acclaim but less than a month and a half after its debut, Mozart suffered a painful and mysterious death, and confided in his loved ones his conviction that he had been poisoned (see last week’s post: Mozart, the Free Masons and A Mysterious Death).

Theories of Mozart’s death are as numerous and varied as the Gulasch in Vienna’s Gulaschmuseum. One proposes that the timing of Mozart’s death (so soon after the premiere of The Magic Flute) was no coincidence.

Indeed, since its origin, The Magic Flute, like episodes of South Park, has led a double life. For the unordained, the opera relates the age-old tale of the hero’s journey: a hero reluctantly answers the call to adventure and leaves the world he knows to undergo trials and overcome challenges to earn his reward and return home a new (and better) person. For those in-the-know The Magic Flute amounts to a 1791 shout-out to the composer and writer’s masonic brethren.

Below are just a couple characteristics of the opera that have provided fuel to the fire of speculation.

The goal of the free masons and Tamino in the opera is to overcome that which ruins the spirit of man (perverted thought, uncurbed emotions and destructive actions) in order to ascend the stairs of the one Lodge – the Universe – to attain universal oneness.

Unification of opposing forces of the universe to achieve oneness: On the one side you have the dark evil Queen of the Night who also represents in addition darkness/Isis/Booz/feminine/moon/fire/evil/chaos and on the other you have Sarastro who represents light/Osiris/Jakin/masculine/sun/water/good/order. You can go deep into philosophy, psychology and spirituality here and simply say it’s like Yin and Yang, good cannot exist without evil, there can be no Sonnie without Cher — you get the picture.

The steps of a Freemason: Entered Apprentice (youth), Fellow Craft (manhood), Master Builder (old age) – we see similar representations of Tamino as he undergoes his journey in the opera.

The Masonic Triangle (you know the one – look at the back of your 1 dollar bill)  reflected in the many groupings of three in the opera:

Three boys: In the Magic Three, three young boys offer Papageno and Tamino guidance on their journey. They demand of Tamino three traits: steadfastness, patience and secrecy – three golden rules of the free masons. They are thought to symbolize the two deacons and the master of ceremonies of a lodge who likewise accompany new masonic apprentices on their symbolic journey during which they must face the trials of two of the four basic elements: fire and water. Symbolically they may also represent a person’s inner voice of reason.



Three temples appear on stage in the Magic Flute: The “Temple of Wisdom”, the “Temple of Reason” and the “Temple of Nature” similar to three of the pillars of belief of the free masons – the other two: strength and beauty. The Temple of Wisdom (Solomon’s Temple) should symbolize the temple of humanity, in which all people are “brothers” who should unite in a higher spirituality. (Beethoven was a mason too which — if you read the lyrics of Ode to Joy explains the brotherhood concept pretty well).

The three chords in E-flat major in the overture and grand final:  Mozart had written quite a few numbers for the masonic lodges and liked to use E-flat, which has three flats arranged in triangular form (the “Masonic Trinity” sheet music style). Since then, the E-flat has often been referred to as the Masonic key.

Three musical knocks throughout the opera represented by wind instruments (beginning of second part of overture).

Characters in the Opera

Tamino: The initiate who is willing to undergo the trials set forth in order to achieve a higher state of being is thought to symbolize a masonic initiate.

Sarastro: (the Italian name for Zarathustra) The spiritual leader who resides in the seven circles of the sun -perhaps symbolic of the lodge Grand Master. Or perhaps Osiris (believed to be the personification of Truth) and the powers of the sun. In freemasonry seven represents the seven liberal arts and sciences (grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy) but also the seven planets (belief at the time).

Magic Flute Stage with Queen of the Night

Magic Flute Stage with Queen of the Night

Papageno: the character of Papageno is a bird catcher and someone satisfied by life’s simple pleasures. Rather than striving to reach a higher state of existence/awareness, Papageno would prefer to forgo hardship in order to indulge in earthly delights (women and wine). Nowadays, Homer Simpson would be the embodiment of Papageno. Many purport that masonic beliefs also based on principles and values from ancient Egypt. Indeed, the first set designers of the opera referred to drawings of Egyptian monuments. Interesting is therefore the similarity between Papageno, a creature with a man’s head, and a bird’s body, and the ancient Egyptian creature of Ba. Ba has been described as the spiritual part of human beings that survives death – that part that makes you who you are and unique from everyone else and the Egyptians believed rises from the corpse to embark on the journey into the afterlife. An explanation of how both theories would coincide is that perhaps only that part of a soul able to overcome secular desires for the sake of spirituality will exist beyond the earthly world.

Symbolic rituals/tasks

Rites of purification before entering the temple: thought to be symbolic of lodge rituals.

The journey of the initiate from the veil of the night (the Queen of the Night – Isis and the powers of the moon – represented in the number 5 and the star (five points)),  into the Sun Temple of Sarastro (represented by the number 3 and the triangle or pyramid) The ascension of an initiate from apprentice to fellow craft to master builder.

Environment/ Objects

The forest: perhaps a symbol of the unconscious and all its wilderness

Symbols of the free masons

Symbols of the free masons

Nature: animals tamed by the magic flute – harmony with nature – order from chaos

Magic flute: an instrument crafted from wood that turns into gold by the end of the opera (ancient Egyptians were thought to be master alchemists who held the secret for producing precious medals). Music holds the power to instill harmony and raise “man” to otherworldly states. The flute enchants nature and brings it under control.

White robe: At the end of the journey the initiate is given a white robe representing purity.

Historically the masons have upheld a strict code of confidentiality, in part, to survive. They didn’t want to suffer the bloody end of the Knights of Templar who got on the wrong side of the king. Many of the ideas promoted by the free masons (education over birth – meaning a commoner could be equal to a nobleman) were threatening to the established systems (like the nobility and the Roman Catholic Church). Even more so at the time of The Magic Flute since its debut immediately followed the French Revolution. In addition, the masons probably recognized early on that a secret handshake here and a discreet compass there had a cool factor that drew members. Every child with a clubhouse, gang with a pair of shoes, and military unit with a clandestine mission knows that the secret knock, shoestring color, or patch makes you “in” and when you are “in” you are not “out” and can be readily identified by fellow brothers as one of the gang and not a woeful wannabe.

Was Mozart’s work on The Magic Flute somehow connected to his death? The free masons are infamously strict about their code of secrecy and said to have graphic symbolic gestures which signify the painful death he who breaks the code of silence will suffer.

Did the interweaving of masonic symbols into The Magic Flute amount to a severe and fatal breach of confidentiality? Since Mozart’s body was buried in a mass grave in St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna, the world will probably never know for sure. What would seem to exonerate Mozart’s brothers from accusations of foul play is the fact that Mozart’s fellow collaborator in The Magic Flute, Emanuel Schikaneder, continued to live and perform another two decades before losing his marbles and dying impoverished in Vienna at the age of 61.

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The Magic Flute by W.A.Mozart. BBC/animation/ part1

  The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart BBC / animation / part 2    Check out the dancing rhino – who can resist a dancing rhino? Gotta get me a magic flute to calm down spectators at heated soccer matches!

The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart BBC / animation / part 3




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What started out as a pilot project is here to stay. Vienna’s pedestrian cross walks have gone viral. The New York Times, Guardian, NPR, BBC, — the whole world’s abuzz with Vienna’s traffic lights. And now everyone wants one too. Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz – hold onto your Lederhosen because they’re coming to town!

Vienna Red Ampel Guy and Girl

Red Ampel pair – guy and girl with sweet butterflies – near Opera in Vienna

Traffic lights?

There hasn’t been this much chatter about traffic lights and pedestrian crossings since the Beatles released the cover of their Abbey Road album and protests broke out after German Reunification when the West German Ampelmännchen tried to strong-arm his way onto all the traffic lights in the country and bid the old DDR Ost-Ampelmännchen Auf Nie-Wiedersehen.

Way back in 1961, traffic psychologist, Karl Peglau, suggested to the East German Department of Transportation that every traffic participant should receive his or her own traffic light due to the psychological impact of the images on the behavior of pedestrians.

Or maybe the Austrian Green Party, which introduced the Vienna initiative, was inspired by Czech artist, Roman Týc, who won the public award of the Sidewalk Cinema Festival in Vienna in 2007. On April 8, 2007, Mr. Týc donned a pair of red overalls and ascended a ladder at 50 traffic lights throughout Prague, changing all the lights to figures depicting women, the disabled, golfers, and a bunch of other groups. Rather than paying the 2500 Euro fine his creativity cost him, he spent a month in prison in 2008. Too bad crowdfunding wasn’t a thing yet,

Schottentor Vienna Same Sex Traffic Lights

Red Traffic Light Same Sex Pair in Vienna at Schottentor Crossing

I’m sure he would have had no problem raising the money for his cause. But – hey – will someone donate some good music to the guy’s Youtube video? It’s a pity not to have good tunes to go with such a great coup d’état.

But Vienna’s change isn’t the work of Mr. Týc. Alongside the WHO’s May traffic safety week, wedged between the Vienna Lifeball and the Eurovision Song contest, the Austrian Green Party moved to install 49 traffic lights throughout the city that blink not one lonely red guy waiting or green guy walking, but suddenly two people waiting and walking – sometimes arm-in-arm, sometimes holding hands, or accompanied by a sweet little heart, but the always in pairs – hetereosexual or homosexual.

Vienna Green Party Traffic Light Signs

Vienna Green Party Traffic Light Signs

The lights aren’t just a sign of safety, but a symbol of tolerance. And Maria Vassilakou of the Green Party who is also the Vienna Council Member in charge of traffic safety, just announced that the lights are here to stay.

I’m not sure about the safety aspect, though. In attempting to get some pix for you, both red AND green, I had to keep one eye on the traffic and one on the on-coming bims. Want a photo of the lights? Use mine. Don’t risk your life! Those bims move fast and brake slow.

Green Ampelpaar near Opera in Vienna

Green Ampelpaar near Opera in Vienna

See the Video on Roman’s Guerrilla Traffic Light Initiative here (who knew traffic lights could be so much fun?)

Now say “Ampelpärchen” 3 times fast followed by “Vassilakou” 3 times faster.

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