Vienna Art Week: Preview

Vienna’s 7th annual art festival has grown in scope and gives lesser-known artists a platform to be enjoyed and discovered

On The Town | Saleha Waqar | November 2011

In November, art-lovers will flock to the city for the 7th annual Vienna Art Week, running from 14-20 Nov. Not only the City of Music, Vienna’s wealth in visual artists, ateliers, galleries and artwork is often underestimated, and only the biggest names – like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele are widely known on an international level.

Robert Punkenhofer, the artistic director for Art Week, describes a central aim of this initiative to forge a place for Vienna and its art scene in the global arena. For one week, the spotlight is on Vienna’s living artists, art galleries and studios.

This year’s theme is "Reflecting Reality," which director Punkenhofer explains on two levels:

"On the one hand, it focuses on artists’ inner realities, their emotions, their psychological makeup, their identities and what moves them, what is real for them," he said. "On the other, it is also about external realities-socio economic, geographical – and placing these works of art outside of the artist himself."

Not only does art "reflect reality," but it also provides material to make sense of modern life. Individual needs and social bonds, private life and the public sphere, the briefness of the present and the pursuit of stability, proximity and distance as well as enactment and leisure constitute poles of psychic states. Art displays the upheaval of political systems, the evolution of parallel worlds and gives them space for analysis and reflection.

Supported by Art Cluster Vienna, the programme ranges from specialized guided tours as part of "Gallery Weekend", discussions, studio visits, artists’ talks, exhibition openings, installations and privately held events promoting contemporary art.

One highlight of Art Week is the opening of 21er Haus museum, renovated to house contemporary art collections. "Vienna always seems to be looking backwards says Agnes Husslein-Arco, the director of Belvedere and the leader of this project. "Initiatives like Art Week and this museum will serve to present the more modern and contemporary facets of Austrian art to the world."

The younger generation as having adopted Vienna Art Week, says Punkenhofer, particularly following the increased effort to include more innovative and non-celebrity artists. British photographer and arts writer Anthony Auerbach, for example, has worked across the world, in Shanghai, London, L.A. and New York, as well as Vienna, and has come back to town for Art Week. He will be sharing a studio visit on 17 Nov. with his colleague, performance artist Marlene Haring from the Vargas Organization in London, and the Turkish painter Nazim Yilmaz.

However, with these international artists, the focus of Art Week is on Vienna’s artists, Punkenhofer maintains, especially those who have no other means of gaining access to a foreign audience and international collectors, art organizations and benefactors.

The studio and gallery visits are especially recommended for the opportunity to discuss, debate and experience first hand what is on offer in the world of modern and contemporary art.


For tickets, schedules and venues visit:

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