Gallery Girl waltzes around Vienna

I have just returned from a very short but sweet trip to Vienna, which centred around me dancing around the insides of the Hofburg Palace like a princess. Whilst the purpose of my stay was not intended to be devoted to discovering Vienna’s arts, I still managed to get a glimpse at some of the masterpieces the Austrian capital has adorning its museum walls.

The very first thing I made sure that I did after my painful 6am flight was to walk directly to Das Hundertwasserhaus – if anything could energise me, it would definitely be this rainbow building. Das Hundertwasserhaus was built between 1983 and 1985 after the federal chancellor of Vienna suggested that Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser be provided with an opportunity to build a house and put his architectural ideas into practise. The house, which was built together with architect Peter Pelikan, was designed to be a terrace house for human beings and trees, where humans nature can live in harmony. The structure that is now visible in Vienna today is home to many apartments, which each has its own colour on the outer facade, giving the building the feel of an oversized inhabitable mosaic.

Das Hundertwasserhaus is not the only stunning piece of architecture in the city however, just walking through Vienna, one is exposed to many beautiful buildings. Otto Wagner’s art deco ‘jugendstil’ buildings are highly visible as well as modern buildings inside the city’s MuseumsQuartier in the form of the Leopold Museum designed by Ortner & Ortner and Michael Wallraff’s Momuk. I would also recommend walking around the Vienna Opera, not only is it stunning, but there is also a giant pink rabbit sitting outside, brightening up the grey weather of winter.

While in the MuseumsQuartier I took a look around the Leopold Museum, which is the home to over 5,000 works of art collected by Elisabeth and Rudolf Leopold. The collection comprises the largest collection of works by Egon Schiele as well as important masterpieces by Gustav Klimt, including his ‘Death and Life.’ Also on display in the huge museum is a reconstruction of Klimt’s studio that is furnished complete with skeleton.

Schiele and Klimt are also on display at the Belvedere, a pair of stunning eighteenth-century palace a little outside the centre of the city. While I only had time to visit the Upper Belvedere, I have absolutely no doubt that the Lower Belvedere is full of treasure. Inside the Upper Belvedere is a sumptuous display of Austrian art displayed in the most lavish rooms one could imagine. The beautiful staircases, frescos and ceilings are stunning alone, but here they have been adorned with not just Austrian artists, but the likes of Jacques-Louis David and Marina Abramovic. However, it is no surprise that the majority of visitors can be found cowering in front of Klimt’s most famous painting, The Kiss. On display in a dimly lit room, it commands attention from everyone who walks past it. While I cannot deny it’s beauty however, I must say that I was more taken aback by Klimt’s floral landscapes that are much more spectacular in person than in images.

I must conclude this piece by saying a little about the venue of my ball, the Hofburg Palace. The former imperial palace in the heart of the city was truly spectacular and I would urge anyone going to Vienna to take a walk outside and take in the city from its governmental seat. Vienna is a must for European art-lovers, not only are its galleries and museums overflowing with masterpieces, but it also has much to offer visually by merely walking down the street.

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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