Brushstrokes on the boulevard

Ringstraße artworks are currently on display at a Viennese museum.

The Belvedere Vienna (www.belvedere.at) – located near Schwarzenberg Square – presents landmark paintings by Gustav Klimt, Hans Markart and several other influential fin de siècle artists. “Klimt und die Ringstraße” (Klimt and the Ringstraße) focuses on paintings, decorative elements in Ringstraße palaces, drawings and sketches of the Austrian art icons. The Ringstraße is Vienna’s magnificent city-centre boulevard. It was created 150 years ago.

The new exhibit, now on display at the Unteres Belvedere (Lower Belvedere), is certain to draw the crowds thanks to a carefully chosen selection of paintings. Klimt artworks are an important element of the Belvedere collection and different exhibitions. However, Franz Matsch manages to outshine the famous artist this time around. The grace and sheer beauty of Matsch’s paintings are a revelation.

Meanwhile, the Belvedere’s Winterpalais galleries feature some of the most spectacular Old Masters’ paintings from the Dresdner Gemäldegalerie. “Geist und Glanz der Alte Meister” consists of still lifes, portraits and landscape art by Titian, Rembrandt and many others.

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

Book look: Russia & real-life risks

There are difficult times for dialogue between East and West. As political leaders are implementing trade sanctions and intensify military presence to demonstrate strength, people in Western Europe may wonder what Russians think. What are their dreams and hopes? How is life in Eastern cities of Vladivostok and Magadan? Which struggles and challenges are virulent in Irkutsk in southern Russia? Two freelance journalists teamed up with two photographers to create a realistic and lively portrait of 43 Russians. Meet an extraordinary fashion designer, the owner of a modest restaurant, a pensioner and an ambitious entrepreneur. The articles by Jessica Schober and Wlada Kolosowa are working perfectly with the bright and intense photos taken by Olga Matweewa and Evgeny Makarov.

Russland. Menschen und Orte in einem fast unbekannten Land
By J. Schober, W. Kolosowa, O. Matweewa, E. Makarov & Heino Wiese
Published by Corso (www.verlagshausroemerweg.de)

Life is dangerous, that’s for sure! But there are various underestimated threats while other aspects are not considered as dangerous by many. A new book reveals the biggest dangers of being alive. “Warum Kugelschreiber tödlicher sind als Blitze” is also a precise urban myths check. Cord Balthasar and Thorsten Wiese examined the risks of ferry trips and flights. They also present surprising sports injury statistics and a top 10 list of the most dangerous cars in the world. Another chapter deals with risks at the workplace – from dangerous professions like soldier, roofer and police officer to rather unspectacular sectors (bookkeeping, pharmacy). “Warum Kugelschreiber tödlicher sind als Blitze” is entertaining and informative. Take it easy – but don’t try this at home!

Warum Kugelschreiber tödlicher sind als Blitze
By Cord Balthasar and Thorsten Wiese
Published by Riva (www.rivaverlag.de)

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

Dreaming of Dresden

An extraordinary venue for a remarkable collection – selected works from a German art collection are now on display in the Vienna city centre.

The Winterpalais, a lavish Innere Stadt district building, is the ideal scenery for “Rembrandt. Titian. Bellotto. Geist und Glanz der Dresdner Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister”. The collection is widely regarded as one of the most renowned in Europe. Thousands are visiting the Saxon city each year to visit the gallery. Now some of the most famous parts of the collection are presented at the Winterpalais which is managed by the Belvedere team.

Outstanding city portraits by Bernardo Bellotto and large still lifes by Dutch painters are the top attractions of the exhibit. The beautiful rooms of the Winterpalais, which was turned into a museum in 2013, create a wonderful atmosphere which matches perfectly with the Old masters’ artworks.

>> http://www.belvedere.at

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

Blues Brothers

Hans Theessink has team up again with Terry Evans to create some blues brilliance.

The Vienna-based guitarist and singer previously worked with Evans on “Visions” (2008) and “Delta Time” (2012). Their third album-length collaboration is called “True & Blue”, a 14-track live record.

Recorded in Vienna, “True & Blue” catches the vibrant energy of two extraordinary voices. Only two guitars are added to ensure an authentic atmosphere. The live album features audience favourites like “Glory of Love” and “Talk to your Daughter”.

“True & Blue” is live blues at its best, and the duo demonstrated over the past few months that they can pull it off live. Visit http://www.theessink.com for more information on upcoming Theessink solo concerts and his future projects.

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

Book look: French & football

A new course book helps students making the first step as they are getting into learning French. Cornelsen’s updated “Perspectives” edition consists of 12 units featuring clearly structured grammar explanations and reasonable practising methods. The book edited by Annette Runge & Pascal Rousseau also includes several maps, nice illustrations and a section where students can read the audio CD dialogues once more. Cornelsen’s “Perspectives” is 230 pages strong, with an additional 75-page speaking training supplement and two CDs with lots of listening exercises. This comprehensive approach ensures an ideal assistance for learning French on A1 level. Towards the end of the course, learners should be able to engage in shopping conversations. Writing a short e-mail should not be an obstacle either.

Perspectives. Französisch A1
By Annette Runge & Pascal Rousseau
Published by Cornelsen (www.cornelsen.de)

Architecture and football fan culture are celebrated in a new photo book. “Fußball-Wunder-Bauten” by Andreas Bock, Benjamin Kuhlhoff and Alexander Gutzmer features portrays of stadiums around the world with a special focus on Europe and South America. The authors structured their publication into leagues to underline the superiority of some venues. Their book is not just about the big names – it also considers soccer grounds fans might not expect to be part of this selection. Furthermore, Kuhlhoff, Bock and Gutzmer spoke with several former players like Günter Netzer, Moritz Volz and Hansi Müller and fans (Die Toten Hosen frontman Campino) to help the reader understand what it means to play at Bernabeu, Carevn Cottage and San Siro. Celtic Park, La Bonbonera and Anfield Road are just three of the many stadiums featured in “Fußball-Wunder-Bauten”. The book is an elegant mixture of powerful photography, short facts and informative interviews.

Fußball-Wunder-Bauten
By Andreas Bock, Alexander Gutzmer and Benjamin Kuhlhoff
Published by Callwey (www.callwey.de)

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

Book look: Todenhöfer’s terror trip

A German journalist has travelled to Syria and Iraq to document life in the territory of the “Islamic State”.

Jürgen Todenhöfer wanted to find out what it means to reside in cities like al-Raqqah and Mosul. The experienced reporter – who previously visited Afghanistan and Libya – was accompanied by his son and an old friend of Frederic Todenhöfer. They spent 10 days in the area now reigned by the terror organisation.

“Inside IS. 10 Tage im ‘Islamischen Staat’” tells from fear of dying as drones and fighter jets appear near the trio’s bungalows. Todenhöfer’s book also features lengthy interviews with “IS” members. The writer wanted to find out more about the young men’s intentions. Why did they leave Germany, despite positive outlooks concerning their careers? Reading his conservations with the extremists, you soon get the impression that Todenhöfer provides too great opportunities to them to spread their ideology. His mentions of delicious food and other trivial details in “IS” territory cities could cause controversy as well.

Todenhöfer also points out how often and severely he disagreed with the people he spoke with. These parts of the book appear to be some kind of compensation for getting immensely close to “IS” masterminds such as a convert from North-Rhine Westphalia.

Reading “Inside IS” is, without any doubt, thrilling and informative. The book is a real page-turner as you are desperate to find out what Todenhöfer, his son and their friend experience as the atmosphere worsens. The situation seems to get even more serious as they realise that their driver could be the infamous executor “Jihadi John”.

All of these aspects – including the manifold contradictions between contempt and some kind of Stockholm syndrome – ensure that Todenhöfer’s new book, which also features an utterly polemic open letter to “IS” leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will be his most successful.

His foreword is, nevertheless, the strongest part of “Inside IS”. Todenhöfer’s introduction is a precise analysis of the recent developments in the Arab region. The journalist blames the colonisation policies of France and the United States as well as the decisions of former US President George W. Bush for the current situation.

Inside IS. 10 Tage im “Islamischen Staat”
By Jürgen Todenhöfer
Published by C. Bertelsmann (www.cbertelsmann.de)

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

Seductive Schmalix

Red skies, purple forests and yellow trees. The colour compositions Hubert Schmalix is focusing on are highly unusual. Discovering his art is an adventure.

Several large-format paintings and some small drawings by the influential Austrian artist – who lives in Los Angeles – are currently on display at the Bank Austria (BA) Kunstforum, a gallery in the city centre of Vienna.

The setting of Schmalix’ landscape portraits often resembles sceneries painted by Alfons Walde, the legendary Tyrolean. A significant contrast to these paintings are, however, the Graz-born artist’s nudes. Asian women could have influenced Schmalix when he created these beguiling artworks. Especially his large canvases like “Lazy Afternoon” and “Hair is important” are intriguing.

Florian Steininger curated the exhibition which consists of many paintings created by the artist in recent years. Visitors can discover substantial differences between his new works of art and his mid-1990s series which are on display as well.

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

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