In spring 2007, one of Europes greatest private collections of classical modern art came to the Albertina
as a permanent loan from the Rita und Herbert Batliner Foundation in Liechtenstein.
The Albertina is now in a unique position to compensate for the major gaps in the Austrian state-run museums holdings of international modern art with key works of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, German Expressionism, Fauvism and the Russian avant-garde.
The Batliner Collection has received acclaim from museums and connoisseurs for decades. It includes outstanding works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon. These masterpieces can be seen in a new permanent exhibition at the Albertina.
The Batliner Collection is augmented by works from the Forberg Collection in Switzerland, which was also transferred to the Albertina on permanent loan.
The Collectors Herbert and Rita Batliner
Herbert and Rita Batliner began collecting art nearly half a century ago. Due to their close friendship with the legendary art dealer Ernst Beyeler, French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting formed a cornerstone of the collection from the very beginning, along with the work of Alberto Giacometti. Exceptional works by Monet such as The Water-Lily Pond, Edgar Degas Two Dancers, or Cézannes Arc-Tal and Mont Sainte-Victoire landscapes attest to the couples passion for French art.
Picasso became an additional focal point. Today he is represented in the collection with over 40 works, including ten paintings and numerous drawings and one-of-a-kind ceramics.
In the course of his travels, Herbert Batliner gained familiarity with Russian avant-garde art. He and his wife were inspired by the works they saw in Amsterdams Stedelijk Museum, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, to build their own fine collection of Russian avant-garde art from 1905-35.
The focus of their acquisitions was on Marc Chagall, but they also sought out works by Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova und Mikhail Larionow. The collection includes a major work by Kazimir Malevich, painted as a defiant memory image immediately following the artists release from a Stalinist prison.
The Collectors Legacy
As the collection has grown from decade to decade, so has its recognition within the art world. Herbert and Rita Batliner regularly lent to museums; rare was the Picasso, Monet, Modigliani or Giacometti exhibition that did not include works on loan from the Batliner Collection.
Several years ago the Batliners decided to respect the integrity of the collection by transferring the entire collection to a museum as a bequest. Convinced that extraordinary art collections are no less distinctive, and as such worth preserving, than great works of art, the Batliners decided to make their collection accessible to the general public in their lifetime. The couple derived enormous pleasure and intellectual stimulation from the daily contact they had with their paintings, pastels, gouaches and sculptures, and now they wanted to share this experience with others.
The Batliner Collection and the Albertina
To safeguard the unity of their distinguished collection in perpetuity, the Batliners set up the Herbert and Rita Batliner Art Foundation, which transferred the artworks to the Albertina as a permanent loan.
Together with works from the Swiss collection of Eva and Mathias Forberg, which is also on permanent loan to the Albertina, around 100 works from the Batliner Collection are on display at the Albertina in a permanent new exhibition that traces the development from Impressionism to modern art.