Tuesday, October 21

Vienna II: The Three Muses

Our first morning in Vienna and we finally have some internet access! I eagerly lap it up like a parched camel. And just as suddenly, I am satiated. I back away from the computer quickly, craving some exploration time.

-
Tom left a little earlier with his MBA class to do educational, brainy things.

-
I strapped my backpack on, stuffed Euros in my pocket and hit the streets. -
-
-


-



I don't do the north/south/east/west thing, so navigation is always bewildering. I even got on the front of one bus, sat for a few minutes gazing at a map, then got off the bus through the back door, having gone no where. (remind anyone of the elevator experience??)
-
Pictured to the right is a moment in time frozen in the StadtPark...strasse...platz....something. (The Germans take a normal word and add a bazillion letters to it just for fun, so it was probably Stadtparkgrasseplatzein.)

--



I cut across Karlsplatz and headed down Saleingrasse to the Belvedere Castle, hugging the castle wall til I found the gate and entered the castle gardens. It was one of many, many moments where I dropped open my mouth & sucked in my breath like a kid who's just seen Santa.

-
Absolutely breathtaking. With the sun shining as it was, the castle was mirrored on the garden pool atop a hill, overlooking Vienna. -

-
Bleached sculptures alternated with creatively trimmed bushes to line the pathway to the palace. Let me tell you a little about the fellow who had this palace built.

So.. there was this dude. He was small, goofy looking, weak, but brilliant. The kind of kid other kids picked on.
-
Like my father, this dude was near genius. He became a soldier and worked his way up in life. He increasingly went up in rank, experiencing untold numbers of victories between 1690 - 1720. He fought under 3 Austrian Emporers, eventually becoming the Emporer's Regent before his death in 1736 at 73 years of age.
--
-
-


This most royal dude was Prince Eugene of Savoy. Prince Eugene built his first palace around 1714 - 1716 to be used as his Summer residence.

He chose a Baroque architect, the finest, and his palaces are now considered to be one of the world's finest Baroque landmarks.

Prince Eugene built a fancy pavilion with extensive gardens (I know because I was listening to an English AudioGuide) It wasn't long before the prince outgrew his palace. So he enclosed the pavilion and turned it into his "upper palace," bigger and better than the lower.

The prince's niece, Anna Victoria, inherited the palaces upon the prince's death and eventually sold the property off, piece by piece. Finally, it was all sold and renamed "Belvedere", which being interpreted means "Beautiful View."
-
I toured both palaces, with the upper being my favorite. It now houses an impressive collection of Austrian art, including the world's largest Gustav Klimt collection.

The lower palace has Baroque art on display, of which I am not particularly fond (plus the lady I spoke to was a tad nippy, increasing my level of dislike) .

Let's talk Austrian Art, shall we? If you're not interested, you might want to discontinue here. Unless you like food, I do mention some food.
-
This (to the right) is what I call Austrian Art: velvety chocolate Sacher Torte with a watered down expresso, foamy and bubbling in a mini tea cup. But that's also what I call lunch, and the Vienese don't joke about their art, so let's move on.
ART

Not to be confused with a local term "enfahrt." Art Enfahrt. ha ha ha, oops, there I go again.

OK, back to business. ART:

At the upper palace, I focused on the art at the turn of the 19th century. Love me some 19th century art! (hate 20th century art, but will save that for another post)
-
The Australian & German expressionists became interested in psychoanalysis around this time. (I'm assuming due to Freud's influence, but I'm not entirely sure he was milling about during this same time period or not) Klimt was one of many. I like Klimt, he's OK, probably the most well-known. (you may have seen his reprints at Target) (think he's rolling over in his grave?) (want me to leave you alone?) Klimt was an older man when Egon Schiele's work came to be recognized. Egon Schiele scares me.
-
My favorite work of his is the "Portrait of Eduord Kosmack," a Vienesse publisher, pictured here and linked here.
-
See why he scares me? I could psychoanalyze this for hours, & almost did. Mostly, I wonder if the angry aura reflects the artist or the subject?
-
Schiele followed his wife and unborn child in an early death at age 28, leaving his final portrait one of him & his wife with their future child painted in at their feet. He tragically died soon after completion.
-
To perk myself up after this tragic story and the angry Austrian Expressionst aura looming over me, I luxuriated in Emil Jakob Schindler's outdoor, everyday scenes, full of light & air, scenes very much like the areas to which I gravitate when I travel. His work is categorized as "Austrian Atmospheric Realism." That is so me. I could almost feel myself lazily drifting about in Wilhelm Bernakik's "Pond." This is my fave. So peaceful and ethereal, yet totally believable. You could be there then, you could be there now.
-
I fell in love on the first floor of the upper Belvedere. I fell in love with Berliner Max Liebermann's "Hunter in the Dunes." I can almost smell the paint! It is so thick, I want to touch it, it even looks wet. Entering another room, I took a stroll through the portrait gallery. I don't like portraits, as a rule, but if I had to pick one, it would be "Fisher Boy on the Seashore" by Anton Romaku.
-
And I know what you are thinking (well... if you are still here & if you are still thinking...): "Val, what about the still lifes?" I hate still lifes. I shut my eyes as I passed. The still life, my little American friend, is the most boring genre imaginable. Go ahead. Quote me on that.
-
The exact opposite of boring is a sculpture series entitled "Series of Character Heads" by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Please click on that link to see what I'm talking about. In the late 1700's, Vienna accused Messerschmidt of some type of mental illnes {{gasp: NO!}}. Messerschmidt moved to Bratislav in a fit of anger and produced this series of illustrated human facial expressions. Many of these busts look quite familiar, by the way. My faves: "A Haggard Old Man with Aching Eyes" followed by "An Old Cheerful Smiler."
-
I must mention one more piece of art. A sculpture of the poet, Auguste Rodin, sitting on a rock with three femal muses swirling around his head. That's how I want to be memorialized! All these muses swirling about my head . . . .

2 comments:

Jen said...

Hey Val...that messermeschimdtsal link would've been awesome....had it been in english...youve been away tooo long...lol

Poof said...

Ooops. My B.

I mean, Oppsenstrasse. My Bensteingart.