Book look: Munch, Magenschab and His Majesty’s most loyal commander

Fear, love, despair, uncertainty and loneliness are major 1subjects of Edvard Munch’s oeuvre. The   most famous painting of the celebrated Norwegian artist, who died at the age of 80 in 1944, is “The Scream” (1893) which exists in four versions. In a new biography, Hans Dieter Huber describes Munch’s life from childhood to his death. The book contains more than 40 illustrations showing some of Munch’s greatest paintings, including two self-portraits. Huber writes about various personal aspects without neglecting artistic angles. Writing about an artist often resembles the analysis of a painting. Huber, a German art history professor, created an excellent great biography about a fascinating artist.

Edvard Munch. Tanz des Lebens
By Hans Dieter Huber
Published by Reclam (www.reclam.de)

Millions lost their lives in World War One, a2 four-year conflict at the beginning of the 20th century which was preceded by a warmongering atmosphere. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian heir to the throne, in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 is considered as the cause for the war. However, the political climate was already poisoned when the Habsburg family member was murdered. Severe political conflicts between Europe’s leading nations overshadowed all intentions to avoid a war. With fantastic photographs and imformative texts, “Der Große Krieg” by Hans Magenschab offers a comprehensive view on the events between the start of the war in 1914 and its end four years later. The book tells from the brutal battle on the frontline and the immense hardship at home, from the widespread euphoria when the war began and the desperation and mourning which soon followed.

Der Große Krieg
By Hans Magenschab
Published by Tyrolia (www.tyrolia.at)

Prince Eugene of Savoy was not only an iconic military commander with a legendary sense for the 3right strategy in crucial battles. Born in France, he made it to the top in Austria. Prince Eugene – who ordered the construction of the gorgeous Belvedere Palace in Vienna and died at the age of 72 in 1736 – was also an infamous bon vivant and lover of art. Now Konrad Kramar and Georg Mayrhofer took a closer look at the complex character of Prince Eugene to find out whether it is true what has been said and written about him. Kramar and Mayrhofer previously smashed clichés, myths and rumours circling around Leopold Figl, Andreas Hofer and other important Austrian personalities in their book “… und keiner sang die Reblaus” from 2006. The new book by Now Kramar and Mayrhofer is a portrait of a person who tried to disguise his insecurities behind the picture of an undisputed hero created by those who admired him

Prinz Eugen. Heros und Neurose
By Konrad Kramar and Georg Mayrhofer
Published by Residenz Verlag (www.residenzverlag.at)

Book look: Christoph Ruf

Christoph Ruf, a sports journalist specialised on sociological phenomena in football, has written a book about a factor of the sport which is confronted with manifold prejudices. “Kurvenrebellen. Die Ultras – Einblicke in eine widersprüchliche Szene” portrays the various Ultras movements among soccer supporters in Germany.
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The associations – infamously loyal to the team they support – are often accused of causing fear among peaceful attendants of Bundesliga and DFB Cup matches. At the same time, their efforts to ensure a lively atmosphere in the stadiums is acknowledged by those who focus on the positive aspects. Breathtaking choreographies and deafening vocal support on the ranks often overshadow other actions which Ultras members are in charge of: violence in the streets and the illicit use of pyrotechnics on the stands.

Ruf’s book is an objective approach to the explosive topic. The journalist – whose articles have been published by leading magazines and newspapers like Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung – reveals how neo-Nazis have been trying for years to infiltrate the apolitical Ultras scene. Ruf describes internal structures of the unions which shun any kind of mainstream publicity – and he does not turn a blind eye on exaggerated harassment and physical force carried out by the police.

Politicians and football club officials keep asking themselves how these groups should be approached and how rigorously inappropriate behaviour should be sanctioned. “Kurvenrebellen. Die Ultras – Einblicke in eine widersprüchliche Szene” is, without any doubt, an important contribution to the public discussion.

Kurvenrebellen. Die Ultras – Einblicke in eine widersprüchliche Szene
By Christoph Ruf
Published by Verlag Die Werkstatt (www.werkstatt-verlag.de)

Yesterday and today – from Michelangelo to Fischl

The Viennese Albertina is one of Austria’s biggest touristic attractions and an important art gallery. The city centre institution’s collection features a vast number of fantastic drawings, brilliant paintings and remarkable sculptures.
A new exhibition takes visitors back to the very beginnings. In “Die Gründung der Albertina – Eric-Fischl_UntitledZwischen Dürer und Napoleon”, they can find out how the collection was founded and why certain works of art were acquired. The special exhibit – now on display on the second floor of the museum which is located just across the street from the State Opera – includes outstanding drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer, but also impressive oil on canvas and gouache paintings by other artists.

Also on display, but at the Albertina’s ground floor showroom, is a special exhibition dedicated to Eric Fischl, a renowned contemporary artist from the United States. “Friends, Lovers and other Constellations” features various paintings, many of them beach scenes, as well as his controversial 9/11 sculpture “Tumbling Woman”.

>> http://www.albertina.at

Here to stay

“Unsere Stadt!” – Our City! This is the title of the newly installed permanent exhibit at the Viennese Jewish Museum (JMW, http://www.jmw.at).

It seems as if the curators intended to signalise self-confidence by choosing this slogan as its headline. As far as its structure is concerned, organisers want visitors to focus on a comparably small number of items. A few dozen objects represent Jewish life in Vienna over the centuries. JMW director Danielle Spera explained: “We did not want the exhibition to end with the year 1938 or 1945. This was of great importance to us.”1

Spera said that she rather had a “fresh start” in mind, adding that this was the reason why the ground floor showroom – where visitors start their tour – is dedicated to the life of Vienna’s Jewish community between 1945 and today. Elsewhere, the exhibition tells from more or less difficult periods for Jewish people in Austria in the past centuries. Different migration movements are analysed as well as the different effects of anti-Semitism.

Book look: Nils Minkmar

Is he trying to say, ‘Look, I’ve got nothing to hide’? Or is he just taking his coat off? He appears to be rather uncomfortable, that’s for sure. The cover of Nils Minkmar’s new book shows Peer Steinbrück opening his coat, surrounded by reporters and snappers.
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The photograph captures the atmosphere on the campaign trail leading to last year’s German Bundestag election. Steinbruck, the Social Democrats’ front runner, understood how to play the game. At the same time, the experienced politician was always on the brink of causing embarrassment – once more. Controversial statements and showing the middle finger – few positive memories remain from Steinbrück’s attempt to become chancellor of Europe’s economic superpower.

Now Minkmar, who heads the feuilleton section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, presents his book about the SPD candidate’s ill-fated campaign. Minkmar accompanied Steinbrück across the country when he competed with Angela Merkel’s CDU for first place – from big assemblies to events on the countryside attended by just a handful of supporters.

His 220-page book offers an extraordinary glance on how things really work behind the scenes when all cameras and microphones are switched off. Minkmar manages to unmask influential networks. “Der Zirkus. Ein Jahr im Innersten der Politik” tells from decision-making processes and strategic meetings, but also odd situations.

Der Zirkus. Ein Jahr im Innersten der Politik
By Nils Minkmar
Published by S. Fischer (www.fischerverlage.de)

Book look: China, Jesus and Judas

“Zwei nach Shanghai” tells from the fascinating bicycle trip of twin brothers Hansen and Paul 1Hoepner. The young Germans document their journey to China and write about the many adventures which they experienced as they covered 13,600 kilometres to reach Shanghai. The twin brothers almost got arrested and boldly tried out traditional food like locusts. They received support from overwhelmingly hospitable families in the various countries they visited along the way. Hansen and Paul Hoepner tell from their experiences on mountains higher than any peaks in the Alps. Extreme altitudes did not stop the duo –sandstorms and other extreme weather conditions did neither. Their adventurous journey bears certain similarities to the hike of Christoph Rehage, a student from the German city of Hanover. Rehage decided to walk from China to Munich where his girlfriend lived at that time. His report is called “The Longest Way”. The richly illustrated book has been praised by a Chinese critic for being “more than a travel journal. It offers a fresh eye on life in China.”

Zwei nach Shanghai
By Hansen Hoepner and Paul Hoepner
Published by Malik (www.malik.de)

A team of journalists has contributed articles to a new informative book about the life of Jesus of 2Nazareth, his companions and enemies. “Jesus von Nazareth und die Anfänge des Christentums” features texts by Angela Gatterburg, Rainer Traub, Sebastian Borger and several other authors. In their articles, they gather the knowledge and research results of historians, theologians and archaeologists to separate rumours from facts. Like this, the team around Annette Großbongardt and Dietmar Pieper created a fascinating panorama of the world 2,000 years ago. The authors examine Jesus’ activities as an itinerant preacher, the important role of wine and how scientific medicine emerged despite the popularity of faith healers. No aspect concerning that era has been ignored by the authors of this 290-page work which delivers realistic impressions of the world people lived in when Christianity emerged to become one of the major religions on the planet.

Jesus von Nazareth und die Anfänge des Christentums
By Annette Großbongardt and Dietmar Pieper
Published by DVA (www.dva.de)

“Judasbrut” is the title of a new crime novel telling from mysterious occurrences 3in the German region of Franconia. Investigator Maria Ammon is confronted with a dead rough sleeper – foul play cannot be ruled out. Several other suspicious events later, Ammon realises that her latest case features a whole bunch of explosive ingredients. After releasing “Kainszeichen” in 2011, freelance writer Sabine Fink has written another crime story talking place on the countryside. Her book is published by Gmeiner as part of a long series of crime novels by Austrian and German authors such as Sabina Naber, Rupert Schöttle and Friederike Schmöe.

Judasbrut
By Sabine Fink
Published by Gmeiner (www.gmeiner-verlag.de)

Cowboys and Christ

The Viennese Bank Austria (BA) Kunstforum presents paintings by Siegfried Anzinger in a new special exhibition.

Anzinger was born in Upper Austria. He moved to Cologne in the 1980s where he has resided ever since. The influential artist uses mostly distemper paint. Like this, his paintings become distinctive since their colours fail to appear as bright as the oil coloration which is the technique of choice by many other artists.
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Another crucial aspect in the work of Anzinger is his selection of motifs. Many of his large-scale paintings show strange constellations and slightly grotesque situations. Indians, cowboys and horses as well as other animals appear in prominent positions. Apart from scenes as taken out of a western movie with a nonsensical plot, religious themes such as the crucifixion of the Christ are of great importance as well.

Hatje Cantz (www.hatjecantz.de), a German publishing company specialised on photography and art, recently presented a catalogue with works on display at the Bank Austria Kunstforum. Ingried Brugger, Florian Steininger, Heinrich Theissing and others provided articles for the 180-page publication.

The Anzinger exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum – which is located in Vienna’s Innere Stadt district – consists mostly of recent paintings by the artist. It also features a film in which the 60-year-old speaks about his art. Anzinger – who lectures at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf – explains how he proceeds when creating a painting.

>> http://www.bankaustria-kunstforum.at

Sedlacek: sinister and worth seeing

For a long time, it seemed as if a whole country has forgotten about the achievements of Franz Sedlacek. Now a Viennese museum presents his paintings in a special exhibition.

Sedlacek’s works have not been on display for a long time before the Landesgalerie Linz created an exhibit two years ago. Now the Wien Museum’s first floor showrooms feature a temporary exhibition of his paintings.

Sedlacek grew up in Linz. During World War Two, Sedlacek served in the German Wehrmacht. It is understood that he was killed on the frontline in Eastern Europe in January 1945. Some of the 1autodidact’s paintings offer rather realistic views on life in the first half of the 20th century. He also painted flower still lifes. However, Sedlacek mostly created surreal worlds of mysterious creatures in odd situations. Looking at the paintings triggers a desire to find out more about them.

At the Wien Museum (www.wienmuseum.at), his paintings are on display in a dark, poorly lit room. The decision to design the exhibit this way strengthens the aspect of uncertainty which dominates his oeuvre. At the same time, visitors might find it hard to decipher the small-printed captions under the pictures in such an environment.