The photography phenomenon

An Austrian museum sets the focus on photography to demonstrate how taking pictures has developed into a universal culture accessible to almost everyone.

“Faszination Fotografie” is the title of the current special exhibition at the Essl Museum in Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria. Images by more than 30 photographers from different countries are featured in the exhibit curated by Günther Oberhollenzer.

The exhibition tries to present photographic art from as many angles as possible. Having selected just a handful of pictures per topic, the exhibition includes photos documenting nature and human life – from large-scale portraits to panorama views on crowded beaches.
Photos taken by Elger Esser, Mike Kelley, Andreas Gursky and many others are featured. For additional information, visit http://www.essl.museum

Furthermore, the Essl Museum presents paintings and video installations by young artists from Central and Eastern Europe. “Diversity of Voices” presents a broad spectrum of genres and artists from Hungary, Romania and other CEE states. 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Essl Art Award CEE.

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

Creative couples

Russian artworks created in the first decades of the 20th century are now on display in Vienna.

The Bank Austria Kunstforum – which is located near the Burgtheater in the city centre of the Austrian capital – currently presents “Liebe in Zeiten der Revolution. Künstlerpaare der russischen Avantgarde” (Love in Times of Revolution. Artist couples of the Russian avant-garde). The exhibit curated by Heike Eipeldauer and Florian Steininger features paintings and drawings by creative couples in Russia.

The exhibition reveals links and contrasts in the painters’ oeuvres. It features Varvara Stepanova & Alexander Rodchenko, Valentina Kulagina & Gustav Klutsis as well as three other couples. The broad spectrum of genres and artistic directions is impressive as it features large cubistic paintings, politically influenced posters, small drawings and drafts and well as collages.

Kurier praised “Love in Times of Revolution” for its “clever arrangement” of paintings. The Viennese daily also pointed out that the exhibition reflects on ways of life between utopia and nationalism.

A slide show set up in the gallery and a 200-page exhibition catalogue published by Kehrer offer further insights.

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

>> http://www.kehrerverlag.com

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

Book look: Scheffer & Schmidt

Greedy agents, the risk of getting injured, short-lived fame. In his new book, football expert Harry Scheffer reveals the difficulties of making it to the top. The 47-year-old coach and his co-authors Michael Fuchs-Gamböck and Matthias Bergert describe modern scouting systems, successful managers’ strategies and the dangers of taking the fast lane to fame. “Fußballgötter. Der schöne Schein des Profisports” offers advice for parents and ambitious young footballers. The book also offers a closer look at controversial developments in 21st century soccer.

Fußballgötter. Der schöne Schein des Profisports
By Harry Scheffer
Published by Orell Füssli (www.ofv.ch)

Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, passed away last month. A book of personal memories, anecdotes and essays on philosophy and encounters with other leading politicians was published just a few months before his death. Lauded as one of the country’s most important authorities and a highly influential personality with a strong determination, Schmidt mainly focused on serious political issues in previous releases. “Was ich noch sagen wollte” has a more relaxed note. There are several amusing and light-hearted moments. Schmidt writes about what he learned from top-level political negotiations. However, the late defence minister also reflects on being a Wehrmacht soldier in World War Two. Other “Was ich noch sagen wollte” chapters are dominated by philosophical elements and very personal thoughts, for example when Schmidt writes about Loki, his late wife who died in October 2010.

Was ich noch sagen wollte
By Helmut Schmidt
Published by C.H. Beck (www.chbeck.de)

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

Book look: U-Bahn history

Vienna is a vibrant city which keeps growing. Its public transport system and its costs, structure and expansion have often been debated intensively. However, the majority of users and experts praise the Austrian capital’s planners and managers for creating and sustaining a reliable network. Despite increasing usage, ticket prices have risen moderately in recent years. Compared to other European cities’ public transport systems, Vienna is performing on a very high level in all regards.

“Das Wiener U-Bahn-Netz”, a book published by Wiener Linien in 2009, offers a broad historic panorama view on planning and constructing the city’s underground. Author Johann Hödl does not start his story in the 1960s when the first U-Bahn line was built. He also describes the pioneering engineers and their first attempts to create public transport in Austria and across Europe as well as the Nazis’ restructuring and redesigning plans for public transport and various streets and squares.

On more than 300 pages, Hödl explains the effects of global planning developments in all eras on Vienna. He examines the different parties’ opinions after World War Two when Viennese politicians expressed the idea of building a network of underground lines for the first time. as of 2010, the Viennese U-Bahn featured 101 stops – and the extension is ongoing, with new destinations and a new line: the U5. “Das Wiener U-Bahn-Netz” – which features dozens of old documents and photographs – is a pleasure for all residents of Vienna interested in how their city’s renowned underground became what it is today.

Das Wiener U-Bahn-Netz. 200 Jahre Planungs- und Verkehrsgeschichte
By Johann Hödl
Published by Wiener Linien (www.wienerlinien.at)

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

Book look: football & fitness

A new collection of cartoons about football solves key mysteries regarding the popular sport. In their artworks, cartoonists from different countries reveal what is really going on in the locker room at half time. They also explain what the sport and barbecues have in common. Furthermore, “Cartoons über Fußball” – for which Clemens Ettenauer and Johanna Bergmayr chose cartoons by Oliver Ottitsch, Harm Bengen and many other artists – shows players practising how to properly celebrate a goal. The psychological aspects of the competition as well as various sociological issues are also debated in amusing manner.

Cartoons über Fußball
By Johann Mayr, Daniel Jokesch and many others
Published by Holzbaum (www.holzbaumverlag.at)

A fitness expert and a journalist have once more teamed up to create a reasonable guide to a healthier lifestyle. Shortly after their successful release “Die Fitmacher-Formel”, coach Marco Santoro and reporter Gela Brüggemann present “Die Power-Formel”. Their new book features a varied 30-day fitness programme consisting of different exercises as well as delicious recipes. All of the selected exercises can be carried out without gym machines. This aspect strengthens Santoro’s appeal to create fitness training for everybody. Furthermore, the Südwest publication includes Santoro’s workout concept. The fitness expert explains how muscles function, which nutrition is essential and why enough sleep is important. Several parts of the new book are similar to the duo’s previous release. Those who already own “Die Fitmacher-Formel” can do without their latest publication which does not really feature any essential and new elements compared to its predecessor. Its release is rather founded on the continuing fitness hype.

Die Power-Formel
By Marco Santoro and Gela Brüggemann
Published by Südwest (www.suedwest-verlag.de)

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

Book look: more than a counterfeiter’s confession

One of the most stunning post-war art thrillers can now be rediscovered as an infamous conman wrote his autobiography.

Wolfgang Beltracchi never actually forged paintings. He examined artists’ biographies, their personal environment and attitudes to create a missing link painting. His artworks – successfully sold as Campendonks, Pechsteins and Max Ernst paintings – were put on renowned auctioneers’ catalogues and added to catalogues of works. First few doubts regarding his art turned into a massive wave of investigations which eventually led to his arrest. Beltracchi and his wife/accomplice Helene were sentenced to six and four years in prison after having lived the dream of every wannabe celebrated artist.

Several television documentaries, interviews and an amusing 3sat series featuring bestseller author Daniel Kehlmann and others followed – as well as “Selbstportrait”, an extraordinary book about an extraordinary life. The 3sat documentary shows Beltracchi working on portraits of actor Christoph Waltz, TV entertainer Harald Schmidt among others. It is fascinating to see Beltracchi working on the paintings while chatting to the celebrities.

“Selbstportrait”, his book, is a wonderful experience for everyone interested how his felonious business developed. Those who dislike his narcissism and self-centred attitude might find it hard to get through the 600 pages. Before descriptions of his infamous activities finally kick off, Beltracchi writes about his difficult childhood, rebellious youth and journeys to Amsterdam and Morocco. Some chapters of the book were penned by Helene. She writes about meeting Wolfgang for the first time. Further on, she describes the excitement of negotiations with art experts concerning her husband’s paintings.

The publication confirms that the German is not only a brilliant painter but also a talented writer. The controversial parts of the book are not the forgery chapters. Readers might disapprove of his decision to describe all aspects of his life in detail while the public’s main interest is getting an inside view on his illicit activities – which are described with increased intensity as the book continues…

Selbstportrait
By Helene & Wolfgang Beltracchi
Published by Rowohlt (www.rowohlt.de)

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

Book look: Hofburg & Hamburg

A new photographic history book reveals surprises and secrets of the Viennese Hofburg. Located in the heart of the capital, the palace has been in the centre of crucial developments in the history of Austria – from the Habsburg era to the annexation of Austria in 1938. Since 1945, the building features the presidential office. “Die Wiener Hofburg. Die unbekannten Seiten der Kaiserresidenz” by Bernhard A. Macek and Renate Holzschuh-Hofer reviews the history of state visits – from Queen Elizabeth in 1969 to the Slovakian President in 2014. Furthermore, hundreds of photos document many of the 2,600 rooms but also the different museums which are located at the Hofburg – from the Sisi Museum to the National Library. The Lipizzaner stables are famous – but did you know that the Hofburg has its own fire department? Beautiful photographs, anecdotes and historically relevant facts turn this book into a substantial guide to understanding the history of the building, Vienna and Austria.

Die Wiener Hofburg. Die unbekannten Seiten der Kaiserresidenz
By Bernhard A. Macek and Renate Holzschuh-Hofer
Published by Sutton (www.suttonverlag.at)

Hamburg – cool and open-minded city in northern Germany. Artistic hotspot. Melting pot of multicultural influences. Hamburg’s image has always been highly positive. Increasingly popular among tourists, the city has also developed a magnetic effect on young people from the countryside starting studies or work. Rising rents and a lack of available flats are the worrying consequences. However, the good aspects of globalisation still seem to dominate. Now Gmeiner published a book featuring more than 30 portraits of famous and not so famous Hamburg residents. For “Stadtgespräche aus Hamburg”, Berliner Morgenpost journalist Nina Paulsen (www.nina-paulsen.de) interviewed managers of unusual pubs and restaurants as well as artists, bankers, hotel bosses and charity workers. The collection of texts underlines the great variety of cultures and lifestyles in the booming hotspot in the cool north. “Stadtgespräche aus Hamburg” is part of a series of special city portraits which also features “Stadtgespräche aus Wien” by Clara Hein. For her book about Viennese personalities, Hein spoke with Wienerlied singer-songwriter Roland Neuwirth, actor Josef Hader and many other residents of the Austrian capital.

Stadtgespräche aus Hamburg
By Nina Paulsen
Published by Gmeiner (www.gmeiner-verlag.de)

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