Vienna Christmas Market (photo: Ade Russell CC)
Pin It

If you're searching for a Christmas themed destination for the last weekend of advent or maybe you want to get out of Prague for the holidays, you should consider a trip to Vienna.

Virtually every square street and alley in the city center is turned into a Christmas market with offers of local snacks and sweets and many varieties of punch and mulled wine. If you are a fan of art, there's over dozen good reasons to spend at least two days in the Austrian capital before the mid January. There are several art exhibitions you might regret missing.


Monet to Picasso, the Batliner Collection

 Maurice de Vlaminck | Stillleben mit Obstschale - Still Life with Fruit Bowl | 1905Maurice de Vlaminck | Stillleben mit Obstschale - Still Life with Fruit Bowl | 1905

The Albertina is home to one of Europe's largest and most outstanding collections of classical modernist paintings: The Batliner Collection. It was turned over to the Albertina by Rita and Herbert Batliner in 2007, opening a new chapter in the museum's history. From French Impressionism, Pointillism and Fauvism (including works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Braque, and Matisse) to masterpieces of the expressionist artists' groups Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter (including paintings by Kirchner, Kandinsky, and Nolde) and on to the Russian avant-garde and numerous works by Pablo Picasso, this permanent exhibition presents all of modernism's revolutionary ideas.


Gerhard Rühm (Until Jan. 28, 2018)

The Kunstforum Wien with Gerhard Rühm in fall 2017 is one of the last universal artists. As a composer, pianist, performer, writer and visual artist, Gerhard Rühm, who was born in Vienna in 1930 and now lives in Cologne, was a crossover between the individual art disciplines, long before concepts such as "crossover" and "intermediality" were used in good artistic practice , In the space of word and image, of language and music, and of writing and drawing, Rühm seeks a constant expansion of media forms of expression that break through visual habits in a conceptual as well as humorous way. The present experience - the now - and the temporal dimension of language, form as central motifs in Rühm's oeuvre as the linguistic constitution of the subject. For experimental - "concrete" - poetry, the trained composer Rühm came in the early 1950s about the employment with Anton Webern. In the reactionary climate of the Austrian post-war period, he founded together with Friedrich Achleitner, HC Artmann, Konrad Bayer and Oswald Wiener the legendary "Wiener Gruppe" (1954-1964), which followed the radical language experiments of Expressionism, Dada and Constructivism.


Challenge modernity (until to Feb. 18, 2018)

Exhibition view "Modern Challenges: Vienna and Zagreb around 1900" (Photo by Johannes Stoll)Exhibition view "Modern Challenges: Vienna and Zagreb around 1900" (Photo by Johannes Stoll)

The art around 1900 in Central Europe arose in a lively dialogue between Vienna, the center of the then multiethnic state, and the capitals of the crown lands. Thus, the exchange between Vienna and Zagreb developed as a result of the general modernization in Europe.

The cultural exchange between the two cities was crucial for the stylistic affiliation of Croatian art at the turn of the century. Through these new currents brought to Zagreb by those artists and architects trained in Vienna, the overall picture of cultural life in Croatia today changed over a period of about twenty years. The exhibition Vienna and Zagreb around 1900 shows key works of Austrian and Croatian artists of the turn of the century. On display are works by Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Carl Moll, Vlaho Bukovac, Ivan Mestrovic, Robert Auer, Tomislav Krizman and other protagonists of Viennese and Zagreb Modernism. The exhibition is a cooperation with the Gallery Klovićevi dvori, Zagreb, Croatia

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Rubens - Power of transformation (Until Jan. 21, 2018)

 Peter Paul Rubens. Diana Returning from Hunt (1615) Peter Paul Rubens. Diana Returning from Hunt (1615)

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 Siegen - 1640 Antwerp) was a star at the time - and still is today! His name stands for the painting of an entire epoch, the Baroque period. But even the art of the present often does not pass him by. The great life's work of this genius includes large-format altarpieces that surpass in dynamics and chromaticity everything that his contemporaries were used to. But also sensual acts and dramatic picture countings are part of it. Likewise, Rubens is associated with intimate and private paintings. One of the most famous is The Pelt in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The depiction is a veritable declaration of love of the painter to his second wife, the young and beautiful Hélène Fourment. The thunderstorm landscape, which Rubens probably begins with personal interest in problems of landscape depiction and transforms throughout his life, is also magnificent and full of life. The special exhibition makes it possible for the first time to relive these and many other Viennese masterpieces in the context of Rubens' sketches, oil sketches, panel paintings and canvases. The selection of works, including about 70 loans from the world's major collections - the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC - is so juxtaposed that shows contrasts, as Rubens works, like him His penetrating, deliberately composed works of art succeed. If you only have time to visit one of the featured exhibitions, choose this one.


Egon Schiele - The Leopold Collection

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern PlantEgon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant

Featuring over 40 paintings and approximately 180 works on paper, the Leopold Museum is the largest and most prominent collection with works of Egon Schiele worldwide. When Egon Schiele died in 1918 at the age of only 28 year of the Spanish flu he was seen as being one of the most important artists of his time. During the turmoil of the following decades he was more and more buried in oblivion until he completely disappeared into thin air after being judged as "degenerate art". When Rudolf Leopold saw works by Egon Schiele at the beginning of the 1950s he immediately recognized their quality, emotionality and technical bravura could absolutely be compared to the Old Masters.

The life of the young eye doctor changed radically. From now on he entirely devoted himself to collecting and trading art. Many Schiele paintings and drawings were on sold on the free market at the time and even quite affordable even though they were not that cheap: a large-sized oil painting pretty much had the same price as a new car. Compared to the many million Euros that one would have to pay for them today this is nothing. Rudolf Leopold made significant contributions to the international esteem in which he is held today. Besides the oil paintings and graphic works the Leopold Museum also houses the Egon Schiele-Documentation Centre that is dedicated to research on Schiele's work and also holds numerous autographs. For the first time the lyricist work of Schiele dawns on a broader audience.


Nature Stories - Traces of the Political (until Jan. 14, 2018)

The exhibition Natural History. Traces of the Political deals with representations of nature, which refer to social processes and historical events. In different fields it illustrates the interrelation of nature and history. The presentation spans an arc from the 1960s to the present. She begins with works of conceptual art that, with their reflection on the framework conditions of artistic production and reception, also address their dimensions critical to history. Representatives of subsequent generations of artists use both colonialism-critical and socially critical traditions and update these in their respective contemporary historical environment. Natural depictions also characterize works of the exhibition, dealing with genocide as well as with flight and resistance in the context of totalitarian systems and armed conflict. Another topic deals with changes and transformations of public and historical places through natural processes. The overgrowing nature proves to be an indicator of historical dynamics.

Restaurant tips:

For traditional Viennese dishes such as Tafelspitz you can go to one of the two Plachutta Restaurants

Herr Figlmueller is said to have the best schnitzel in Vienna.

Both restaurants have their main establishments in Wollzeile street and for both you need a reservation at least a day in advance during Christmas season.

If you didn't make a reservation, you can try a less crowded Café Griensteidl right by Hofburg (Michaelerplatz 2), for authentic Viennese café atmosphere and very good Austrian dishes landing on your table with impressive speeds.

As for the beer choice to accompany your schnitzel - most Austrian breweries and brewing pubs prepare a special brew for the Christmas, called Weihnachtsbock - a strong, usually darker, lager. If you like bitter stronger bock beers, try Wieden Bräu's variety. This year they brewed it even a bit stronger than last years (19.8°) and deliciously bitter thanks to Perla and Magnum hops varieties.

Traveling tips:

Map of parking houses and parking zones. On weekends you can park for free in most streets.

When going by train, it is a lot cheaper to buy via e-shop at least 6 days in advance.

Student agency bus goes to Vienna Praterstern up to 9 times a day.