12 Exhibitions not to Miss in Vienna and Austria this Winter

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 9, 2022

A hotbed of history and culture, Austria and its captivating capital of Vienna will be playing host to a huge number of exhibitions this winter.

A painting by Judith Reigl (Photo: André Morin / Courtesy he Albertina Museum)

The country’s myriad of museums and other cultural venues are teeming with special events and exhibitions throughout the year. If you’re visiting one of its major cities over the coming months and would like to take in an exhibition or two during your stay, we’ve looked into all of the ones taking place through winter and picked out 12 of the best for you to consider adding to your itinerary.

Ways Of Freedom Jackson Pollock To Maria Lassnig

After 1945, hard-edge painting and colour field painting celebrated a brilliant triumph in Europe and re-established art’s freedom following the end of the Second World War. Figures including Jackson Pollock, Clyfford-Still, Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, and Robert Motherwell were representatives of a new freedom of art as manifested in their reinvention of American abstraction. Their radical artistic break in 1945 also marked the birth of freedom in Europe as facilitated by the Americans. This exhibition examines the creative interplay between abstract expressionism and informalism in the context of transatlantic dialogue from the mid-1940s to the end of the Cold War.

The Albertina Museum, Vienna / Through 22 January 2023

100 misunderstandings about and among Jews

Pure Holy Land Air, Product of Luftgescheft (Photo: JMW / Sebastian Gansrigler)

The image of Jewish women and men is shaped by misunderstandings in large sections of the majority society. Whether it concerns the exaggeration of the “Jewish sense of family,” “Jewish learning,” a clichéd notion of “Jewish life,” or the sadness inherent in anything “Jewish,” all of this is based on misconceptions that later translate into prejudice and express stereotypical images. This exhibition traces these misunderstandings, searches for the backgrounds, questions and parodies them or meets them with a tongue-in-cheek laugh. It’s not about dispelling prejudices against Jews, but about asking about the underlying misconceptions and countering them on different levels – from the historical to the artistic.

Jüdischer Museum Wien, Vienna / 30 November 2022 – 4 June 2023

Finer Dinning. Amboss Design & Dinning Culture 1950-1970

During the post-war economic boom of the early 1950s, Austrian eating patterns and dietary habits began to change. There was a renewed interest in cooking, accompanied by an increased enjoyment of the aesthetic aspects of food and tableware. No longer the preserve of the elite, the notion of fine dining also became an affordable consideration for the middle classes. It’s in this context that the rise of Austrian cutlery manufacturer Neuzeughammer Ambosswerk should be seen. From 1950, the company grew from a small-scale artisanal manufacturer of knives and steel goods into an industrial producer of modern stainless steel cutlery. In this exhibition, the history of the company is explored against the backdrop of 1950s-1970s design as manifested in tableware, everyday culture and interior design.

Vienna Furniture Museum / Through 16 April 2023

Studio Bauhaus, Vienna: Friedl Dicker and Franz Singer

Apartment of Fritz Herbert Lehr, Berlin, 1931 (Photo: Daniela Singer)

This exhibition covers the work by the joint studio of Friedl Dicker and Franz Singer who were students at the famous Bauhaus – the German avantgarde school of architecture and design. Grounded in the school’s principles they developed a distinctive style of furnishing that occupied a special place in Vienna’s residential culture. During the Nazi era, their clients, most of whom were Jewish, were persecuted. For decades, the studio fell into oblivion. Based on new research, the exhibition presents impressive depictions of interiors, photographs, models, and furniture which add important perspectives to our understanding of Viennese Modernism.

Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Vienna / 24 November 2022 – 26 March 2023

Cameron Jamie: Shaking Traces

With his works on paper, together with his books, sculptures, photographs, performances, and films, Cameron Jamie has for some 30 years been exploring identity, psychological and physical transformations of the self, and correspondences between humans and nature. In his work, the boundaries between the representational and the abstract become blurred. Jamie’s free-form drawing process and his constant acts of drawing with his pen form the foundation of his entire oeuvre, together with his inquiry of intuition, chance, layering, destruction, and rebuilding of the images in his line works. This exhibition focuses for the first time on the crossroads of these specific artistic mediums – drawings, monotypes, lithographs, and drawings on ceramic clay – and on his diary-like self-published artist’s books.

Museum der Moderne Salzburg / Through 5 February 2023

Toy Blocks, Bricks, Wooden Blocks!

(Photo: Salzburg Museum/Neumayr)

Toy blocks, bricks and wooden blocks are only a few representatives of the building block family, on which this special exhibition is based. All of them share the same particular characteristic: versatility. Looking at a single block, their flexibility is not visible. But when in a group, the blocks show their multitude of forms all over the world – as houses, towers or entire palaces. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re in a children’s room or on a construction site – architectural masterpieces and fantastic game worlds also feature a small scale. Young visitors to this exhibition are invited to discover them all and learn that with creativity and a dash of skill a single building block can be transformed into whatever you want it to be.

Toy Museum Salzburg / Through 23 October 2023

Herbert & Joella Bayer: Joining Forces in the Service of Art

Herbert Bayer is considered the epitome of the modern universal type of artist. His career took him from Linz to Germany and the United States, where he continued his Bauhaus-inspired work for international corporations, museums, and the tourism industry. As an architect, designer, painter, sculptor and landscape designer, he shaped several townscapes. Joella, daughter of the famous writer, artist and feminist Mina Loy, not only took charge of her husband’s estate after his death, but she was also his muse and mentor during his lifetime and a source of inspiration for Dalí and Man Ray.  This exhibition puts a unique focus on Bayer’s success as a commercial designer in Germany and the US. Photos from private US archives and by Bayer’s first wife, Irene Bayer Hecht, and Ise Gropius of Bauhaus as well as Mina Loy supplement the Lentos museum’s existing Bayer collection.

Lentos Art Museum, Linz / Through 8 January 2023

Tilla Durieux – A Witness to a Century and Her Roles

( Photo: Leopold Museum, Vienna)

She was a celebrated star of the film and theatre, a modern woman of the 1920s, politically active and perhaps the most portrayed woman of her time. The roles of Tilla Durieux were as varied as the artists for whom she posed as a model, among them Auguste Renoir, Max Slevogt, Lovis Corinth, Franz von Stuck, Charley Toorop, Ernst Barlach, Oskar Kokoschka, Max Oppenheimer and the photographers Lotte Jacobi and Frieda Riess. The comprehensive exhibition is the first to investigate the fascination Durieux held for her contemporaries, and to explore the traces of her personality through portraits. Featuring rarely exhibited archival material and international loans, it highlights Durieux’s career, her social and artistic milieu as well as her life shaped by political upheaval.

Leopold Museum, Vienna / Through 27 February 2023

In 80 Münzen um die Welt

Coins have always been indispensable, but at the same time mostly invisible travel companions. Like time travellers, they’ve survived centuries, sometimes even millennia, mostly unscathed, and are now regarded as historical documents that bear witness to past cultures. This fascinating exhibition presents 16 historical figures – or rather the contents of their purses. Across several displays, the legendary figures of Cleopatra and Marco Polo, El Greco, Ida Pfeiffer and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry report on their travels and discoveries and present coins that were in use in other parts of the world at the time.

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna / Through 23 June 2023

What the fem*?

(Photo: 2021 Collection Nordico Stadtmuseum, Linz)

Feminism is a word that is hotly debated. It features in art, in social media, and increasingly in our language through terms such as“quota woman”,“mansplaining” and “Femicide”. Meanwhile all things LGBTQIA+ and #metoo have become conspicuous in the public consciousness. Current artistic positions and documentation of local feminist actions or performances from the last 70 years raise questions about equality, role attributions and their social consequences. Through a range of artifacts and displays, this exhibition serves as a discursive contribution to this socio-political topic.

Nordico Stadtmuseum, Linz / 11 November 2022 – 28 May 2023

Crescent moon over the Nile: how Byzantine Egypt became Arab

(Photo: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

Between 639 and 642 AD, Egypt was conquered by Arab armies. Over the following decades, the caliphs, the “successors of the messenger of God”, extended their sphere of influence as far as Persia and Southern Spain. The Arab conquests and the spread of Islam represent a decisive turning point in world history. Nowhere is the start of this period of flux better documented than in the Department of Papyri at the Austrian National Library: it is home to the most important and extensive collection of original texts from that time. Written in Greek, Coptic and Arabic, they provide valuable contemporary evidence of Egypt’s transition from a Christian-Byzantine country to an Arab-Islamic one. This new exhibition presents some of the most significant exhibits from the collection, including the oldest dated papyrus with Arabic text surviving anywhere.

Papyrus Museum, Vienna / Through 7 May 2023

Picture Book Art: The Book as Artistic Medium

Picture books – whether for children or adults – can be highly effective in expressing the different artistic tendencies through the medium of the book. During this process, artists’ creativity tends to become visible, serving to portray not only beauty, wealth, and hope, but also the myriad of threats to our world, through the medium of pictures. In this immersive exhibition, a wide selection of picture books from the 1960s to the present by the likes of Sonia Delaunay, Bruno Munari, Olaf Nicolai, and Lawrence Weiner are displayed, shining a light on this diversity.

Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna / Through 5 March 2023