Book look: Sachslehner and Sedlacek

Exhibitions, books, panel discussions – there was a lot of interest last year in information about the beginning of World War One. The year 1914 meant dramatic sachslehnerchanges for Europe – politics, society, economy and culture were not the same ever again after the devastations of WWI. Now an Austrian historian has investigated the collapse of the Habsburg Empire four years later. In “1918. Die Stunden des Untergangs”, former Jagiellonian University Krakow lecturer Johannes Sachslehner (“365 Schicksalstage”) reconstructs the dramatic events of 28 October 1918. His 290-page book is a precise analysis of the political developments. His researches help understanding why the monarchy had no future. Sachslehner’s examinations are richly illustrated – his book features newspaper headlines, many documents, various photographs and a drawing by Alfred Kubin. His texts but also the chosen photos present the different aspects of the world in 1918: soldiers in the trenches and a portrait of Zita of Bourbon-Parma.

1918. Die Stunden des Untergangs
By Johannes Sachslehner
Published by Styria Premium (

Magical mystery at the museum! The Wien Museum’s Franz Sedlacek exhibition – which ended in April – was certainly one of the highlights of the 2014 cultural calendar of Vienna. SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe tradition-rich Viennese museum presented paintings which are part of its own collection but also many which are private property or part of the collections of other prestigious galleries. Sedlacek’s oeuvre balances between realistic approaches and dreamlike panoramas. His paintings show cars on streets leading through idyllic landscapes, town scenes and flower still lifes. Dark skies with the clear white snow as the only contrast create a chilly atmosphere. Another significant aspect is the uncertainty of his storytelling. The spectator anticipates some kind of disaster but Sedlacek ensures that he is sometimes unable to tell what is really happening. Sedlacek – who started his artistic career in Linz before being reported as missing during World War Two – has rarely got the attention of museums, collectors and auction houses. The Wien Museum exhibit “Franz Sedlacek. Chemiker der Phantasie” proved the overwhelming force of his brilliantly composed paintings. Everyone who missed the exhibit can catch up by acquiring the official catalogue published by Residenz Verlag. The book not only features all the paintings which were on display at the museum, but also an introduction by Wien Museum director Wolfgang Kos and informative articles by the exhibition curators, Gabriele Spindler and Ursula Storch.

Franz Sedlacek. Chemiker der Phantasie
By Gabriele Spindler and Ursula Storch
Published by Residenz Verlag (

::: The Austrian Culture Channel on Twitter: @accthomas

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