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Dazzling Display by the Greatest Viennese Artists Opens at the National Gallery of Victoria
Art curator Agnes Husslein-Arco speaks about the Gustav Klimt painting Fritza Riedler, as she opens Vienna Art and Design at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia on 16 June 2011. Vienna Art and Design, an exhibition of over 300 paintings and designs pieces from the greatest Viennese artists of the 20th century opens on June 18 until 9 October 2011. EPA/JULIAN SMITH.

MELBOURNE.- Stylish, provocative, rebellious and unforgettable – the world has seen nothing like Vienna in 1900.

The National Gallery of Victoria today opened Vienna: Art & Design, a dazzling display of over 300 extraordinary works by the greatest Viennese artists of the early 20th century.

Vienna: Art & Design features truly spectacular works by the world-renowned Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) including his magnificent portrait Emilie Flöge 1902, alongside the groundbreaking paintings of Egon Schiele (1890–1918), Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), Koloman Moser (1868–1918) and other masters of Viennese modernism.

The decorative objects and interior designs of Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) are also celebrated in this Australian-first exhibition, which presents exquisite furniture, divine jewels, silver and ceramic wares.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV, said: “Exclusive to Melbourne, Vienna: Art & Design forms a major part of our 150th birthday celebrations.

“Visitors will be amazed to discover that this radical, edgy style could be both minimalist and incredibly rich in its decorative detail. The exhibition presents an in-depth exploration of the art, architecture and design of a modern city, which influenced the world. They will be surprised by just how modern the designs of the time were and how relevant they are to today”.

Vienna: Art & Design is exclusive to the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series; it is drawn from two of Vienna’s most important museums – the Belvedere and the Wien Museum – and also includes loans from private lenders and public institutions from all over the world.

“Museums and galleries internationally and especially in Vienna have responded with exceptional generosity, recognising both the existing strength of the NGV’s modern Viennese design collection, and also the special and exciting moment of our 150th anniversary,” said Dr Vaughan.

Vienna: Art & Design explores modernism, individualism, the rise of the radical Secession movement and the creation of a new style concentrating on the use of function, colour and design, when, a century ago, a group of innovative young artists, architects, writers, musicians, designers and thinkers overturned all the rules and created a brave new world.

Otto Wagner, Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser were central to this artistic revolution, known as the Vienna Secession movement, which transformed Vienna into a dynamic metropolis at the forefront of ground-breaking ideas.

Vienna: Art & Design explores this extraordinary period of artistic and intellectual flowering, with a major section dedicated to the exhibitions and stylistic leaders of the Vienna Secession movement.

Nine major paintings by Gustav Klimt will be brought to Melbourne, as well as a full scale facsimile of Klimt’s 30-metre-long Beethoven Frieze from the Vienna Secession building.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “At the dawn of the 20th century, life attained a new height of intelligence, elegance and daring. Living became an art form and art fuelled life with intensity.

“Supple and sleek, and outrageously chic, contemporary design explored bold new forms for every conceivable object of daily use, laying the foundations of the modern industrial look,” said Ms Lindsay.

Exclusive to Melbourne, Vienna: Art & Design will be shown only at the National Gallery of Victoria. This is the first time an exhibition of this size and scale focusing on the exquisite art and design of Vienna will be shown in Australia.

The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series began in 2004 with The Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, continued in 2005 with Dutch Masters from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, followed by Picasso: Love & War 1935–1945 in 2006, Guggenheim Collection: 1940s to Now in 2007, Art Deco 1910–1939 in 2008, Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire in 2009 and European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th–20th Century in 2010.

Vienna: Art & Design is open daily from 10am–5pm from 18 June to 9 October 2011 and until 9pm every Wednesday from 22 June for art after dark.

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