Peter Altenberg. Excerpts from Life

Peter Altenberg was the quintessential poet and one of the central figures in fin de siècle Vienna. He was admired by many of his contemporaries and at the same time laughed at: a dreamer and legendary coffee house figure, an admirer of beautiful women and unspoiled landscapes, a master of aphorisms and other literary forms, a disciple of nature and health fanatic who was nevertheless not averse to a drop of alcohol. He was also a very visual person and artist who was quick to recognize and promote photography as a new art form. Altenberg’s albums of postcards complete with inscriptions were forerunners of the collage technique.

He spent most of his life in hotels and restaurants and was always in financial difficulty, receiving assistance from friends and even celebrating this consummate “schnorrer” existence as an end in itself. 

His Bohemian way of life soon earned him the reputation as the “fool of Vienna”, because of the great respect with which he treated cab drivers, chambermaids and others. His moodiness was also renowned – he was quick to pick a fight with his best friends, sponsors and writer colleagues, but just as quick to make up with them. The exhibition documents his fluctuating relationship with friends and artist colleagues such as Arthur Schnitzler, Adolf Loos, Karl Kraus, Hermann Bahr and Richard Beer-Hofmann.

Curators: Heinz Lunzer, Victoria Lunzer-Talos, Marcus G. Patka