Waitin’ on a Sunny Day

With its breathtaking landscape and vibrant nightlife, the Cote d’Azur has always had a special appeal. But, as Lutz Hachmeister’s book shows, there is so much more to it.

The German author and filmmaker is not just taking the well-trodden path of telling the memory-making anecdotes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and the stars of movies shot in the region in the 1960s.

“Hotel Provencal. Eine Geschichte der Cote d’Azur” tells of early investments by American businessmen and the way painters felt inspired anew as they travelled to the region for the first time.

Many might assume that the history of the Cote d’Azur is just about movie stars, jazz bashes and increasing summertime tourism. Marlene Dietrich, the Kennedys, Aristoteles Onassis, Brigitte Bardot. But on closer examination, there are much more captivating aspects to the history of southern France.

Hachmeister – who visited the region dozens of times – tells the astonishing story of the life of pioneering entrepreneurs like Jay Gould. However, the author also examines significant developments in politics and the history of corruption in construction in a region which has been a stronghold of the country’s far right for a long time. The chapter on the Cote d’Azur during World War Two is the book’s haunting centrepiece.

“Hotel Provencal. Eine Geschichte der Cote d’Azur” is a surprisingly comprehensive, complex and challenging historical portrait of a strip of land that is certain to convey a vibrant fascination for many decades to come.

Hotel Provencal. Eine Geschichte der Cote d’Azur
By Lutz Hachmeister
Published by C. Bertelsmann (www.cbertelsmann.de)

Masters of War

A leading Viennese museum is exhibiting harrowing Ukraine War images alongside Francisco Goya’s iconic Napoleonic conflicts etchings.

The 40 photographs taken by Ukrainian documentary and street photographer Mykhaylo Palinchak in his home country – which are now on display at the Albertina – document the destruction and sorrows caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Curators at the city-centre museum decided to create an interplay between the recently taken images and Goya’s famous 19th century artworks in “The Disasters of War. Goya and the Present.”

Albertina director Klaus Albrecht Schröder said: “This is not a regular exhibition. It’s a statement.”

Schroeder described Palinchak and Goya as “renowned documentarists of war.”

He added: “Their works are painful reminders that everything must be done to end all kinds of violent conflicts.”

Palinchak’s images show passengers on packed evacuation trains, demolished buildings, young soldiers and families fleeing on foot.

The photographer said: “I never had the intention of becoming a war photographer. War came to my town. I had no choice. I saw mass graves and massacres committed on streets leading to Vienna.”

Goya (1747-1828) created his distressing Disasters of War (Los desastres de la guerra) series between 1810 and 1820.

The artist was 62 years old and poor health he began working on the drypoint etchings. They were published in 1863, 35 years after his death.

Goya never revealed what inspired him to create the series of prints. However, art historians consider them as a statement against the violence of the Second of May Uprising, the subsequent Peninsular War and the setbacks to the liberal cause following the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814.

The Second of May Uprising took place in Madrid in 1808. It was a rebellion by civilians alongside some military against the occupation of the city by French troops.

The Peninsular War (1808-1814) was a military conflict fought by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the invading and occupying forces of Napoleon Bonaparte’s First French Empire.

Goya was appointed as court painter to the Spanish Crown in 1786. He retained his position during the conflicts between Spain and France.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine started on the 24th of February of this year. It has caused Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two.

A Dangerous Method

Around 100 works of art by more than 50 painters and writers are on display in a new exhibition focusing on surrealism.

“SURREAL! Imagining New Realities” – which is now on display at the Sigmund Freud Museum (www.freud-museum.at) in Vienna-Alsergrund most notably features paintings by Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso.

The exhibit confirms the rich variety of the private Klewan Collection. However, the decision to present such a large number of paintings, drawings and notes in one room is nothing but disrespectful towards artworks and visitors.

Unfortunately, ‘Less is more’ was not the curators’ motto. Therefore, a visit to this exhibit – which resembles a stuffed cabinet of paraphernalia, despite the many outstanding works of art – can become a rather underwhelming experience.

Considering the museum’s brilliant permanent exhibition – its special appeal lies in the carefully created interplay of personal objects of the Freud family and the property’s wonderful architecture and location – the organisers’ misguided attempt to present the surrealist paintings in an appropriate way is even more discouraging.

Rebel With A Cause

A new exhibition cements Ai Weiwei’s status as one of the most innovative, outspoken and controversial artists of the 21st century.

“In Search Of Humanity” – now on display at Vienna’s Albertina Modern (http://www.albertina.at/albertina-modern) – features not just the famous Fuck series of photographs and his brilliant bicycle sculptures.

Curators also considered early photographs of Beijing and New York, large portraits of Mao Zedong, several miniature reconstructions of the artist’s detention cell, Julian Assange’s treadmill and video footage documenting Ai’s altercations with Chinese officials.

The oeuvre of Ai has enjoyed considerable attention in the past 20 years. Despite the Chinese regime’s threats, the artist has taken the audacious step of using his work as a tool to denounce autocratic regimes’ actions against their critics and anyone fighting for freedom of speech and democracy.

Ai delivers most of this with one part charm to one part serious intent, most notably in his Lego picture series. While his quirky shoe and suitcase creations can today be considered as uplifting intermissions, his artworks underlining the atrocities of the refugee crisis are as poignant as they are painful to observe.

Any Given Saturday

What are football enthusiasts supposed to think of a book that mixes up Frank Lampard and Paul Lambert on page two?

“Der Regelbrecher” by Daniel Meuren and Tobias Schächter certainly goes off to a bad start. However, this book deserves a second chance.

The German sports journalists’ Thomas Tuchel biography is – apart from a few regrettably sloppy errors throughout its 300 pages – a dexterously researched analysis of the former coaching prodigy’s complex personality and his remarkable achievements throughout the years.

Having observed the rise of the 48-year-old Chelsea manager for a long time, Meuren and Schächter especially excel in analysing Tuchel’s diligent methods of developing match tactics.

Being forced to retire early as a player due to physical complications following a serious injury, Tuchel toiled as a waiter and took up university studies before fully focusing on his coaching career.

Tuchel is, as it turns out, rather someone who has pushed the boundaries in so many regards – rather than someone who breaks the rules, as the publication’s title suggests. Readers’ full attention is required in the lengthy chapters on tactics and lineup developments. Fortunately, there are some amusing anecdotes.

Fascinated by the impeccable pitch during one pre-season training camp in Austria, Tuchel attempted to sign the Austrian groundskeeper for Mainz 05. The authors also reveal the reason why Tuchel generally abstains from practicing set-pieces with his teams.

“Der Regelbrecher” benefits from the insights provided retired players who worked with Tuchel for many years like ex-Austrian national team captain Andreas Ivanschitz and venerated retired Mainz 05 defender Niko Bungert.

Meuren and Schächter did their best to create an authentic portrait of all aspects of Tuchel who became increasingly reclusive towards reporters as his career evolved.

“Der Regelbrecher” offers not only a painstakingly analysis of his training sessions but also investigates the many spats he has had over the years with players, rival coaches and club executives, especially during his short spells as manager of Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint Germain.

Der Regelbrecher. Thomas Tuchel – Die Biografie
By Daniel Meuren & Tobias Schächter
Published by Ullstein (www.ullstein-buchverlage.de)

Rapid sign Kühn as unruly Stojkovic skips game to party in Belgrade

Rapid sign Kühn as Stojkovic skips game to party in Belgrade

Nicolas Kühn has praised SK Rapid as the “biggest club in Austria” as the German attacking midfielder signed a four-year contract.

Rapid finished only fifth in the 12-team Bundesliga after having achieved second place in the 2020/2021 season. The team face WSG Tirol in the second leg of the league’s Europa Conference League playoff tomorrow (Allianz Stadion Vienna, 5pm).

Rapid sports executive manager Zoran Barisic had only praise for the 22-year-old: “We were observing his performances for a long time. Our team will hugely benefit from his agility and pace.”

Having been capped for Germany’s youth national teams, Kühn played for Jong Ajax, Bayern’s reserve team and Erzgebirge Aue in the Second German Bundesliga.

Kühn’s transfer comes just days after Rapid bosses confirmed the signing of midfielder Patrick Greil, 25, who had developed into the centrepiece of Austria Klagenfurt’s midfield since joining them four years ago.

Greil scored 21 goals in his 126 appearances for the Carinthian club.

Roman Kerschbaum joins Rapid from relegated FC Admira while Kelvin Arase, Leo Greiml and Srdan Grahovac leave the club.

There has been some controversy when it emerged that Grahovac and right-back Filip Stojkovic – who rejected the club’s contract extension offer – declared themselves “not ready to play” against WSG on Thursday.

Stojkovic caused further outcry by travelling to Belgrade to attend his previous club Red Star’s cup final fixture – and celebrate their victory on the pitch with his former teammates.

Goals by Marco Grüll and Jonas Auer helped Rapid to a 2-1 victory in Innsbruck which was overshadowed by captain Maximilian Hofmann’s injury. The centre-back suffered fractures when he was hit in the face by Rapid keeper Paul Gartler’s knee in a collision.

WSG manager Thomas Silberberger said his team would “try to achieve the impossible” in the tomorrow’s return match.

Silberberger added: “Now we have to analyse our defeat precisely and recover well physically.”

Toy Story

The skittish excitement of Christmas Eve. Toy presents brought to life at night. A bedridden girl hurled into the fantastic world of a fairytale about an astonishingly beautiful princess cursed with a spell.

E. T. A. Hoffmann’s captivating Nussknacker und Mausekönig (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King) from 1816 has every ingredient of a near-perfect children’s story. Lisbeth Zwerger’s wonderful illustrations accompany young and old through this delightful short story.

The writing style of Hoffmann – one Germany’s most important Romanticism writers – is elegant but yet playful. Insel Verlag’s publication offers an ideal opportunity to rediscover this gem.

Nussknacker und Mausekönig
By E. T. A. Hoffmann
Published by Insel Verlag (www.suhrkamp.de)

Schick stays as Rapid 2 face Amstetten

Rapid supporters have experienced some tough weeks but rays of positivity are finally shining through as club officials decided to extend the contract of one of the team’s most reliable players.

Midfielder Thorsten Schick has never been a player able to shift the boundaries. However, the former SK Sturm ace – who can also be deployed as a right-back – has carried out his duties well ever since joining the Green-Whites three years ago from Swiss side Young Boys.

Now Rapid announced that Schick would stay for another two years. The club revealed the news by posting a video on social media showing Schick learning the good news as he is being given a jersey saying ‘2024’ by coach Ferdinand Feldhofer.

Schick, who turned 32 a few years ago, has registered a remarkable 27 assists but just three goals in 99 games for Austria’s most popular club. Schick could become of even greater importance in the coming season considering the rumours about a departure of right-back Filip Stojkovic.

Holding midfielder Robert Ljubicic, 22, and winger Yusuf Demir – a player with the potential to shape games, given that the 18-year-old takes advantage of his potential – have also been linked with clubs abroad.

Rapid executive director Zoran Barisic is not expected to break the pattern this summer and suddenly start splashing out money on new players. The club’s constant belt-tightening will almost certainly keep them further away from becoming title contenders.

Rapid suffered a 0-1 home defeat against champions Red Bull Salzburg on Sunday while their rivals for third place, FK Austria and Wolfsberger AC, garnered three points each. In today’s final matchday of the season, Rapid face WAC – who were managed by Feldhofer from December 2019 to March 2021 – away from home at 5pm.

Tomorrow, meanwhile, Austria’s second-highest competition in league football comes to and end. Rapid 2 – who are currently eleventh of 16 clubs in the 2. Liga – play against fifth-placed SKU Amstetten at the Allianz Stadion Vienna (5pm). The team managed by former Rapid and Sandhausen midfielder Stefan Kulovits held Young Violets to a 3-3 draw last weekend while Amstetten celebrated a comfortable 3-0 against GAK.

Tight race for third place as league draws to a close

Rapid face the most difficult of all possible opponents in their frantic campaign to finish the season ahead of their archrivals.

The third-placed Green-Whites are just two points clear of FK Austria after last weekend’s 1-1 draw. In tomorrow’s penultimate match of the Bundesliga season, Ferdinand Feldhofer’s Rapid play Salzburg (Allianz Stadion Vienna, 5pm) whereas FK Austria travel to Carinthia for their fixture against Austria Klagenfurt.

RBS are celebrating their ninth league title in a row – and it appears unlikely that Vienna’s big two will be capable to gain an edge over them in the foreseeable future.

There has been great uncertainty about Rapid’s squad for some years as club bosses struggle to avoid the departure of the best players.

While centre-back Leo Greiml joins Schalke 04 as a free agent by the end of this season, attacking midfielder Marco Grüll is unlikely to shrug it off when German or Italian sides make their interest known.

Rapid executive director Zoran Barisic has rejected the growing criticism of his transfer politics. “We are acting reasonably. Rapid is doing well,” the former player and coach said.

His RBS counterpart Christoph Freund has meanwhile angered Rapid supporters by claiming that “we have achieved some of the most beautiful victories in Vienna.”

Striker Karim Adeyemi – who has been snatched up by Borussia Dortmund – added: “I’m sure Rapid are a bit mad because we won the title another time. We know what we can expect. We know the way Rapid play and we know their support.”

The Feldhofer side suffered a bitter 1-2 defeat in Salzburg last month. Zlatko Junuzovic – whose future is unclear after RBS bosses decided not to offer a new contract to the venerable midfielder – scored the decisive goal in extra time.