VIENNA – The Albertina Museum in Vienna reopened on Wednesday after a two-month closure with an exhibition of reactionary postwar pieces in its new modern art department.
The Albertina’s main venue relaunched with several shows including: From Monet to Picasso and From Warhol to Richter.
Both exhibitions have been extended for two months to make up for the ten-week closure due the lockdown in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In order to access the exhibition rooms, visitors must first disinfect their hands, wear masks and keep a one-meter distance with other people.
At present social distancing is easy in the corridors of the Albertina. The absence of foreign tourists, which according to the museum account for 60% of punters, is palpable.
As well as the main museum reopening, a new gallery was launched on Wednesday, after its March 13 inauguration was cancelled.
Albertina Modern opened its doors with The Beginning, Art in Austria 1945 to 1980.
The museum has described the show as the first comprehensive review of Austria’s most innovative period in art.
Artists, particularly at the beginning of the examined timeframe, used their practice to distance themselves from the country’s Nazi past, which saw Austria join the Third Reich between 1938 and 1945.
The 2,000 square meter building is located in the Künstlerhaus building (House of Artists) built between 1865 and 1868 by the Vienna Artists Cooperative.
The building, which has always served to showcase art, underwent a four-year renovation funded by a $62.5 million donation from an Austrian businessman, who also loaned his contemporary art collection.
Among the artists exhibited, painters such as Maria Lassing, Vally Export, Gottfried Helnwein and Arnulf Rainer stand out, and their work allows for a rich review of Austrian art of the first 35 post-war years.
In 1939, Künstlerhaus welcomed with great enthusiasm the infamous Degenerate Art Exhibition organized by Adolf Ziegler and the Nazi Party as a way to attack what the regime considered culturally abominable.
Hatred for all things modern lingered for decades in post-war Austria, museum director Klaus Albrecht Schröder recalled this week.
For this reason, the Albertina wants to demonstrate with this exhibition that there were many movements that dealt with “the mutual topic of National Socialism’s terror regime and the bestiality of war,” the director explains.
Austrian museums and galleries have been allowed to reopen since May 15, although the only institutions to do so before today were the Belvedere, known for its Gustav Klimt collection, and the Museum of Natural Sciences.
As well as the two Albertina venues, the Leopold Museum, dedicated to Austrian painters of the early 20th century also reopened Wednesday with masterpieces by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka at the helm.