Fritz Schwarz-Waldegg. Travels into the Self and the World
November 4, 2009 to April 25, 2010
Fritz Schwarz-Waldegg (1889-1942) is a typical representative of the dynamic Vienna art milieu between the wars. Cosmopolitanism and a lively interest in psychology were central themes of this era and the work of Schwarz-Waldegg. His oeuvre may be divided into three phases: an initial enthusiasm for Expressionism, followed by a classical phase strongly influenced by Paul Cézanne, and then in the 1930s historical and ethnological themes that were very much in keeping with the main cultural trends of that decade.
The first retrospective of Schwarz-Waldegg’s works features some 25 oil paintings and 80 other works including loans from numerous public and private collections. As with many other artists of his generation, Schwarz-Waldegg’s early work was strongly influenced by late Impressionism, which he discovered as a student at the Wiener Akademie from 1907 to 1911. During the First World War he served on the Russian front where he produced a number of sketches and portraits of comrades, owned today by the Vienna Museum of Military History. The end of the Monarchy and the inauguration of the First Republic in 1918 were greeted in Austria’s art circles by a general enthusiasm for Expressionism, which had been developed before 1914 by a group of artists including Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Anton Kolig and Max Oppenheimer. Between 1918 and 1921 in Vienna Fritz Schwarz-Waldegg, Alois Seibold, Felix Albrecht Harta and the young Josef Floch created a number of masterly examples in this dynamic and fervent style. Their platform was the Hagenbund association, which Schwarz-Waldegg chaired in 1925/26. Impressive examples of this period in the artist’s life are provided in the exhibition by his famous painting “Confession” (Belvedere) and a series of fascinating travel studies from Copenhagen. The works created during stays in Paris (1924), Berlin (1928-32) and during a trip to Spain (1929) show the influence of Cézanne. The exhibition will feature pictures from this series and also gives an insight into the modern genre art developed by Schwarz-Waldegg in his fashion and ethnological studies.
The last classic portraits before his deportation and death in Maly Trostinec near Minsk in 1942 together with information about this extermination camp provide a harrowing conclusion to the career of a Viennese artist between the wars.
Curators: Mattias Boeckl, Andrea Winklbauer, Erich Raithel
Jewish Museum Vienna
“Have You Seen My Alps?” A Jewish Love Story…
December 16, 2009 to April 5, 2010
“The history of the Alps roughly and succinctly reflects the history of Europe, in other words our civilisation,” wrote Arnold Zweig in Haifa in 1940 in his posthumously published book Dialektik der Alpen. Fortschritt und Hemmnis. For the Jews of Europe the mountains in the middle of the continent have always been fascinating, challenging and puzzling. This waste of nature, this abundance of beauty, ruggedness and energy had to have a meaning that was surely worth discovering. Thus began a chequered relationship, the story of an often unrequited love.
The exhibition “Have You Seen My Alps? – A Jewish Love Story…” takes visitors on a journey of discovery through time and space, from Hohenems to Vienna, from Vienna to Switzerland and finally to Merano: a journey through the worlds of Jewish Alpinism and the development of the mountains for international tourism, a journey to the intellectual childhood and adult dreams beyond the cities, through the contradictions of assimilation and migration, persecution and reappraisal. The exhibition relates the stories of people, places and objects that the visitor discovers on this journey, associations across time, with surprising and troubling connotations. The history of the Jews in the Alpine region actually goes back to the expansion of the Roman Empire, although Jewish communities did not settle in Alpine valleys until much later and remained a rarity: Hohenems, Innsbruck and Merano, with Lugano and Lucerne coming later, or the seasonal Jewish life in the spas of Graubünden and Valais. “Have You Seen My Alps?” takes visitors on a fictitious journey of rediscovery of the Alps through idyllic places and miraculous landscapes.
An exhibition by the Jewish Museum Hohenems and the Jewish Museum Vienna.
Curators: Hanno Loewy, Gerhard Milchram
Jewish Museum Vienna
Oz Almog - Walls of Sound. Jewish Worlds of Music
February 10 to June 30, 2010
When listening to “God bless America”, “The Christmas Song”, “Edelweiss”, “Katyusha”, “The Blue Danube”, “Hello, Dolly”, “My Funny Valentine” or the US Marines’ anthem … very few would think that this is actually a part of Jewish heritage. Or, that some of the finest Afro-American gospels are of George Gershwin.
Oz Almog, an Israeli-Austrian painter, takes us behind the “Walls of Sound” to explore the significance of Jews in the world of music through a rich gallery of personalities composed around the artist’s vision of Jubal, the one who was called upon to bring music to mankind and “the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe” (Genesis 4:21).
In the last of the instructions given to Moses, God commands to his earthly messenger: “… write ye this song for you, and teach thou it the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel”. (Deuteronomy 31:19)
Since then, and to this day, music has been the pulse of Jewish spirituality and the map to the gates of Heaven. One doesn’t simply “read” the Torah - it is chanted in daily portions and each sacred text has its own melody, different for each part of the day or period of the year. This centrality of music, combined with the early literacy of the Jewish people, makes them pioneers in three facets of music: instrumentation, modality and notation.
No wonder then that such a strong tradition has a deep, lasting and global impact. Many scholars agree that both Byzantine ecclesiastical chant in the East and the pre-Gregorian chant in the West (and Western classical music as an outgrowth thereof), are derived from that of the Syrian and Palestinian Church, which in turn had inherited that tradition from the Hebraic musical modality of the synagogue.
In the last two centuries since Jewish music walked out or was exiled from the Ghetto, Jews have played a major role in music as virtuoso performers, conductors, composers, librettists and music industry executives. Oz Almog summoned here some of those wandering children of Jubal to witness it for us in front of “Walls of Sound”.
Coordinator: Andreas Sperlich
The Turks in Vienna. The History of a Jewish Community
May 12, 2010 to January 9, 2011
The Jewish Museum Vienna presents the exhibition “The Turks in Vienna. The History of a Jewish Community”, a comprehensive presentation that looks at the impact of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 15th century. They found refuge in North Africa, some Italian cities and, above all, in the Ottoman Empire. Following the Ottoman conquests, Jews of Spanish descent—called “Sephardim”—were able to form culturally and economically significant communities in the Balkans. The Sephardic Jews who settled down in Vienna were in many ways communicators between East and West, Orient and Occident, Asia and Europe—on an economic, cultural and religious level. The rabbinical tradition also received significant stimulus from the Sephardic Jews. The treasures of medieval Spanish-Jewish poetry were passed on and translated, and the Sephardim were also responsible for developing Jewish mysticism. Moreover, they were the first to make Arab philosophy and medicine available to the Western world. Sephardic publishers distributed their writings throughout the Ladino-speaking world and produced writers of the caliber of Elias Canetti.
It was not until the peace treaties between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire in the first half of the 18th century that Turkish Jews were able to move freely in the Habsburg Empire—an imperial patent gave them permission to hold religious services. In 1887, the impressive Moorish-style Sephardic-Turkish temple was inaugurated in Zirkusgasse in the 2nd district, with portraits of the Habsburg and Ottoman regents in the foyer as indication of the community’s loyalty to both rulers and countries. In November 1938, this jewel of Jewish sacral architecture was destroyed along with practically all other synagogues and Jewish prayer houses in Vienna, and most of the community was subsequently deported and exterminated.
The exhibition is based on the geographical regions of the Sephardic Diaspora. Its six sections deal with the contributions of Turkish-Jewish communities to the economic, cultural and intellectual life of the respective regions. Starting with the expulsion from Spain and exile in Northwestern Europe, Italy, the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans and finally Vienna, the history of Sephardic communities in these regions is presented by means of documents, ritual objects, photos, souvenirs and other objects, pointing out their importance for the history of Vienna’s Jewish community and economic, cultural and intellectual life in Vienna.
Curators: Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz and Gerhard Milchram
Ernst Toch. Life as Geographical Fugue
June 23 to Ocotber 31, 2010
Ernst Toch (1887–1964) was one of the most played new composers in Germany in the 1920s. Together with Paul Hindemith he was a main proponent of New Objectivity in music. And yet, despite his many awards (including the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, and Oscar nomination) he described himself at the end of his life as the “most forgotten composer of the twentieth century.”
The exhibition draws a portrait of the Modernist Toch, who was born in 1887 in a totally unmusical family in Leopoldstadt, the Jewish district of Vienna. His career and fame in Germany (Frankfurt, Mannheim, Berlin) until 1932, his difficult exile in the USA (composer without copyright agency, Hollywood studio system), and his restless last years between the USA and Europe, during which he rediscovered symphonic form for himself, are the main focuses.
The exhibition uses a narrative technique to take visitors on a journey of discovery into the musical world of the composer of the Geographical Fugue in an attempt to understand the twentieth century from the perspective of a modern musical cosmopolite.
Curators: Michael Haas, Werner Hanak-Lettner
Jewish Museum Vienna
Quite clean! Jewish ritual baths. Photographs by Peter Seidel
December 1, 2010 to February 27, 2011
In 1987, the Frankfurt based photographer Peter Seidel began to use the Jewish ritual bath as a photographic theme. He travelled to Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Spain to photograph ritual baths dating back from late antiquity to the present time. In his work, Seidel managed to impressively disclose the mystery of the »mikvah« and to simultaneously capture the private atmosphere of the ritual bath within its spiritual realms.
Ritual cleansing has been a constitutive element of the Jewish faith from the time of biblical law. Its origins are located in the pertinent laws of purity. Through the millennia the architectural design of ritual baths has been subject to constant change as well as the bath’s provisions of use. Up to present, however, total immersion in »live« water has always been considered a rite of transition or rebirth to a complete state of purity.
A joint exhibition of the Jewish Museums in Vienna, Hohenems, Frankfurt am Main and Fürth.
Curators: Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Gerhard Milchram