With its show DYNAMICS! Cubism / Futurism / Kineticism, the Belvedere
offers a comprehensive insight into abstraction as practiced in Vienna between 1919 and 1929, in the context of European Modernism. The phenomenon of Viennese Kineticism, which has hitherto attracted little attention internationally, is presented alongside masterpieces from all over Europe, including works by Frantiek Kupka, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Carlo Carrà, and Giacomo Balla.
In the early 1920s, it was particularly the students in Franz Cizeks class at the Vienna School of Applied Arts who dealt with Cubism and Italian and Russian Futurism art styles for which, contrary to Paris or Berlin, no tradition had yet been established in Vienna. The exhibition demonstrates how rapidly and innovatively Viennese artists joined in with the European post-war avant-garde during the 1920s.
The students subscribed to a new faith in the blessings of progress and the wish to see art renewed by a reflection on processes of perception. Everything is spinning, everything is in motion was a characteristic dictum from that era which carries the seed of why artists, encouraged by the insights of scientists and philosophers, sought to transcribe the dynamism of everyday activity into their creative output. Inspired by the educational reform movement, Cizek gave free reign to his students verve. What is more, he supported them by offering them plentiful opportunities to learn from the arts, from science, aesthetics and cultural history, and transform this input into a novel geometricising formal language. Hence, Vienna saw the emergence, from an intellectual atmosphere rather than from an indigenous tradition, of an abstract art characterized by unique artistic stances. In addition to numerous unknown gifted students, an art network developed around the young creative talents of Erika Giovanna Klien, Elisabeth Karlinsky, Marianne Ullmann and Wolfgang Leopold Rochowanski.
The presence of European avant-garde tendencies in Vienna culminated in the year 1924. With the Exhibition of International art at the Secession directed by Hans Tietze and the International exhibition of new theatre technology at the Konzerthaus. Fernand Léger participated in the shows, where his film Ballet Mécanique was premiered. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini and Theo van Doesburg visited the exhibitions and also paid a visit to the class of Cizek. Things started to move in Vienna, and with the construction of Kieslers progressive theatre-in-theround, the Raumbühne, a temporary specimen of constructivist architecture graced the scene. All of this induced the co-organiser of the theatre exhibition and builder of the Raumbühne at the Konzerthaus, Friedrich Kiesler, to write the following later on, about the year 1924: It seemed as though Utopia was about to turn into reality.