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Museum of Desires: MUMOK exhibition places the collection's potential in a new light
People stand next to Pino Pascali's art piece 'The Blue Widow' during a preview of the exhibition 'Museum of wishes' at MUMOK (Museum of modern art) after its redesign and reopening in Vienna September 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner.

WIEN.- From classical modernism to contemporary art the exhibition combines chronological order and the confrontation of works from different generations of artists that exhibit correspondences in their subject matter. This makes art history since the beginning of modernism visible as a living dialogue between the past and the present. The focus is on art works that led to decisive changes and developments in both classical modernism and in the 1960s and 1970s. This is fundamental to an understanding of contemporary art with its multimedia and interdisciplinary approaches.

Figurative and abstract tendencies along with the subject of figure and landscape are structural principles in the museum’s holdings of classical modernism. They can be found in the works of Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, František Kupka, Henri Matisse or Pablo Picasso. Comparing current works, such as those by Gerhard Richter or Herbert Brandl, not only reveals the importance of the classics from a present point of view, but adds new facets to them in the process. This also applies to the wished-for “reliefs” by Polish artist Henryk Stażewski, whose geometric constructions are indebted to constructivist modernism.

The Art of the 1960s and 1970s
Strengthening pre-existing collection focal points and profiles is accompanied by a relativisation of established historical images. In the area of the art of the 1960s and 1970s, pre-existing borders between “West” and “East” have been dissolved by an expanding view of geometric abstraction and minimal and post-minimal art. Thus these holdings will not only be strengthened by seminal works of American and Western European provenance but also by including and re-assessing contextualized positions from Eastern Europe which are not, or not yet sufficiently, represented. This means that on our wish list works by Dan Flavin, Fred Sandback, Robert Barry, Anestis Logothetis, Imi Knoebel or Heimo Zobernig stand alongside works by Geta Brătescu, Monika Sosnowska and Marzena Nowak. In this way a more comprehensive and revised image of more recent art history can be presented, one that is oriented on content, media, and subject-specific questions, and that extends further than the borders of isms, local scenes and times.

From the 1980s to the Present Day
From the beginning of the 1980s and as a result of the involvement with a daily life that was thoroughly permeated by media, film, photo and video took on special importance in art work. For this reason the Museum of Desires contains numerous works that are concerned with the technical reproducibility of images and focus on, in particular, the mechanisms of memory and the representation of history, and the formation of identity and the representation of the subject, while others thematize cultural projection, differences and borders. Over the last few years the proactive collection initiative in this area has made a significant contribution to increasing the international standing of the museum. The works by Phil Collins, Christian Mayer, Sharon Lockhart, Henrik Olesen and Cindy Sherman on the wish list will carry forward and consolidate this policy. The engagement with painting is also reflected in the wish list selection of representative works by Palermo, Richard Prince and Albert Oehlen.

As potential fixed point within the collection, the suggested works propose a museum of the recent past and present in which the holdings have sufficient width and depth to serve as the basis for future collection policies. At the same time the Museum of Desires, which links present holdings with outside works, is also an indicator of Karola Kraus’s general concept that entails large scale special exhibitions entering into a continuous dialogue with the permanent collection.

Exhibition Catalogue
A comprehensive catalogue will be published for the exhibition by Karola Kraus and with texts by Eva Badura-Triska, Wolfgang Drechsler, Rainer Fuchs, Sophie Haaser, Achim Hochdörfer, Karola Kraus, Matthias Michalka and Susanne Neuburger. The publication will contain documentation and interpretations of the “desires” which cast light on their role in the mumok collection.

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September 9, 2011

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