Book look: Altmann and Abdel-Samad on the Middle East

1After several light-hearted expeditions and entertaining books about these journeys, Andreas Altmann decided to travel to Palestine to create a realistic portrait of the country and its inhabitants. The author of “Gebrauchsanweisung für die Welt” and “Dieses beschissen schöne Leben” wanted to find out whether there is a chance for substantial peace in the Middle East. Altmann vowed to take a prejudice-free approach before speaking to many people about their daily struggle. Released shortly before the start of the latest military conflict in the region, the book of the Egon Erwin Kisch Award laureate presents a doomed country in which violence and injustice have stopped being extraordinary aspects a long time ago. However, Altmann also found generosity and compassion despite the various humiliations many Palestinians have to endure day by day.

Verdammtes Land. Eine Reise durch Palästina
By Andreas Altmann
Published by Piper (

Hamed Abdel-Samad has always caused much controversy with his theories. The expert on Islamism has been threatened with murder for his harsh criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood. 2But Abdel-Samad – whose autobiography “Mein Abschied vom Himmel” was released in 2009 – refuses to remain quiet. After entering the bestseller rankings with “Krieg oder Frieden” in 2011, the Cairo-born analyst hit the headlines by comparing certain actions by radical Islamist movements with the structure of the SS and other Nazi organisations. In his new book called “Der islamische Faschismus. Eine Analyse”, Abdel-Samad – who lives and lectures in Germany – disagrees with the widespread opinion that religious guidelines, rules and traditions must not be criticised. Just the usage of the term “fascism” will continue to cause outcry among conservative and radical Muslims in his home country and all over Europe.

Der islamische Faschismus. Eine Analyse
By Hamed Abdel-Samad
Published by Droemer (

Book look: train with Troger

He did it! After several unsuccessful attempts, Andreas Troger showed an astonishing level of self-discipline to get in shape.sixpack

The online marketing and journalism expert decided on New Year’s Eve 2012 to start a focused abdominals workout. Consulted by fitness experts, Troger worked hard for 66 days. In the end, his concept worked. Troger underlines that he also wanted to prove that it is not necessary to stick to gruelling diet. He also included so-called cheat days on which he rested from training and enjoyed hearty brunches, burgers and pizza.

His book “Sixpack in 66 Tagen” features detailed explanations regarding the exercises he did. Many photos are included as well. The only dodgy aspect of it all is Troger’s mentioning of a nutritional supplements producer as he, according to his diary, ate a fitness bar and drank a special shake each day.

Sixpack in 66 Tagen
By Andreas Troger
Published by Echomedia Buchverlag (

Book look: stars and streets

weissMaurice Weiss has travelled around the world to document people’s lives in many different cities. Some of his photographs are linked to politically decisive periods while others reflect the normal life of men, women and kids in Eastern Europe, Africa and other regions.

A recently published picture book celebrates his art. “Facing People” includes photos showing punks in Moscow, models backstage and young men playing football on the beach. The book starts with introductory words by Alexander Smoltczyk – a journalist who was accompanied by Weiss abroad many times – and Jürgen B. Tesch. They stress Weiss’ ability to create interest in foreign people and their life, with all the difficulties and great moments.

“Facing People” contains a large number of images showing members of the working class across the globe, but also documents the French photographer’s skills regarding portraits. Over the years, Weiss took photos Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Italian author Umberto Eco and the Australian co-founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. All of these photographs are featured.

Facing People
By Maurice Weiss
Published by Hirmer (

Friends, fashion, film and photography

Alex Katz and one of the most influential films of all time are the topics of new exhibits at the Albertina in Vienna.albertina

Katz, the famous American artist, recently donated around 60 works of art to the Albertina. The gallery’s bosses decided to put some of these paintings as well as other creations by Katz on display. Visitors get to see several of his distinctive large-scale paintings dominated by bright colours and clear structure. However, the exhibition also features charcoal and pencil drawings. Some of them are portraits of friends while others show people in the subway, in bars and on the beach.

In another special exhibition, visitors can find out more about the enormous effect of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 masterpiece “Blow-Up” on the film industry and the activities of fashion photographers in the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibit – which is packed with great photographs taken in the 1960s in London and other cities – explains the idea behind the movie starring David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave. It analyses the influence of “Blow-Up” on other films like “Performance” from 1970 starring Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.


Book look: painter of the sea

aiwasowksiIvan Aivazovsky’s oeuvre has been ignored by the Western World for a long time. Outside Russia, the painter’s works have rarely been known, let alone exhibited. A few years ago, a superb exhibition dedicated to the painter of the sea was organised by the Bank Austria Kunstforum in Vienna to unanimous acclaim. Aivazovsky’s paintings, most of them large-scale oil on canvas works, were brilliantly arranged in the gallery’s different showrooms. Special lightning arrangements helped his colourful compositions to shine.

Those who missed the excellent exhibit can still find out more thanks to the exhibition catalogue published by Hatje Cantz. The book not only includes almost 100 paintings of the Crimea-born artist. It also features analytic texts by Hartmut Böhme, Florian Steininger and others. Nothing can beat looking at Aivazovsky’s paintings in a gallery. However, “Aiwasowski. Maler des Meeres” offers great opportunities to discover his powerful paintings: people suffering shipwreck, maritime battles and paintings of Constantinople and other ports, but also several self-portraits. One of Aivazovsky’s greatest strengths was his ability to underline the power of nature. His best paintings show ships battling against reckless storms and gigantic waves.

albertinaAnother remarkable Hatje Cantz release documents the collection of the Viennese Albertina gallery (“Die Albertina. Geburt einer Weltsammlung”, The Albertina. Birth of a world-class collection). The book was published recently as the institution located in the heart of the Austrian capital was the location of an exhibition including the most important objects of the collection. The Hatje Cantz book offers interesting insight on life in feudal Europe in the old days. It includes additional information to exhibit subjects such as drawings by Albrecht Dürer and other great masters.

Aiwasowski. Maler des Meeres
By Ingried Brugger and Lisa Kreil
Published by Hatje Cantz (

Die Albertina. Geburt einer Weltsammlung
By Klaus Albrecht Schröder and Christian Benedik
Published by Hatje Cantz (

Female fool, feeling empty

Sophisticated, extraordinary, challenging – once more, new Kunsthalle Wien exhibitions are leaving visitors impressed, excited but also puzzled.1

“Neue Wege nichts zu tun” (New Ways of Doing Nothing) is a controversial attempt to question determination, productivity, fast growth and progress in the society of the 21st century and among artists all over the world. By focusing on quietness, empty space and few other colours but black and white, the artists represented in the exhibit raise various questions concerning widely accepted procedures in the creative industry and today’s society.

“I’m Isa Genzken, the only female fool” is the title of the other current exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wien ( It consists of important works by Isa Genzken. Born in Berlin in 1948, Genzken has become one of Europe’s most influential artists. The exhibition –curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, the head of the Viennese gallery where it is on display – underlines the broad spectrum of topics covered by Genzken through her oeuvre. Furthermore, the wide range of materials and techniques – photographs, sculptures, wooden objects, graphics and others – is remarkable.

DomQuartier: riveting Residenz and more

The Salzburg Residenz’ appeal on tourists and art lovers from all over the world is set to increase as the museum’s ticket system has been reformed.1

As of now, visitors get to see not just the breathtaking gallery of the Residenz. Purchasing a DomQuartier ticket also includes the chance to visit the cathedral museum – and to enjoy the marvellous view from the building’s roof terrace.

The showrooms currently feature outstanding paintings by famous artists from Austria, France, the Netherlands and other countries, including Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Frans Francken III and many more. Modern sound and video installations are also part of the special exhibition called “Barockes Europa” (Baroque Europe).

For more information, visit