Mention the city of Vienna and it’s likely that Mozart and the Habsburgs, Gustav Klimt, and Sigmund Freud come to mind before contemporary art does. But in recent years, the Austrian capital has found a well-earned spot on the contemporary art map, thanks to its wealth of forward-thinking institutions (TBA21, Secession, and Kunsthalle Wien, among others) and core contingent of serious dealers. While setting the bar high at home, many of these galleries—some long-established, and some more emerging— are also exporting the city’s evolving brand to art fairs worldwide. This week inaugurates viennacontemporary, a new fair launched by the team formerly behind Vienna Fair (which opens under new management in October).
viennacontemporary includes more than 30 galleries from the region and runs concurrently with a city-sponsored program called curated by_vienna, now in its seventh year. For this edition, titled “Today Tomorrow,” 20 different visiting curators are organizing special exhibitions in 20 of the city’s galleries on the subject of art’s relationship to money. For those heading to Vienna this week, we’ve compiled a list of 15 galleries (in alphabetical order) not to miss. Nearly all of them can be found at viennacontemporary (which runs September 24th through 27th), and many of them are participating in the thoroughly international curated by_vienna.
Galerie Andreas Huber
SCHLEIFMÜHLGASSE 6-8, 2ND FLOOR, A-1040
Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Rehearsals in Instability, exhibition view, Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna, 11.9.20151. – 7.11.2015, Photo: Stefan Lux, Courtesy Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna.
A regular on the international art fair circuit, Galerie Andreas Huber makes the most of Vienna’s elegant architecture, occupying the second floor of a classic Viennese apartment in the heart of Schleifmühlgasse, the city’s established gallery district. The exhibition program tends to focus on art ingrained in politics and social theory, so this year’s curated by_vienna theme is right up its alley. On view now is “Rehearsals in Instability,” a group show exploring ambivalence toward capitalism.
Dorotheergasse 12/1, 1010
Founded in 1997 and directed by Kurt Kladler, Charim Galerie stands in the heart of Vienna amid a number of other prominent galleries. Its current exhibition, “Days of Future Just Past,” organized for curated by_vienna, features work that addresses the relationship between time, space, and art by several marquee names from around the globe, including Sherrie Levine, Robert Smithson, and Mark Dion.
Centered on a rigorous program of artists whose work takes a socially and culturally critical bent—Jimmie Durham, Ai Weiwei, Rebecca Horn, and Jannis Kounellis, for instance—the gallery, which was founded in 1989, has a history of presenting work that engages directly with its space, which is situated in the heart of the city. König’s current show for curated by_vienna, “Relational Changes,” was conceived by Cointemporary.com, an artist-run platform that usually sells work only via Bitcoin. The digital currency’s volatility is certain to be an apt comment on some of the more market-driven aspects of today’s art world.
Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman
Seilerstätte 7, 1010
Exhibition view, Tal R, Fog over Malia Bay (2013), Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Vienna. Photo: © Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman.
One of the older galleries on this list, Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, established in 1977, has stayed relevant by focusing on painting, sculpture, and installation by top-notch international artists. In “Retro Store,” which runs through November 7th, curator Veit Loers explores art and capital for curated by_vienna, showcasing artists from closer to home, including Franz West, Alexander Wolf, and Michael Kienzer.
Galerie Emanuel Layr
Seilerstäatte 2, 1010
Although his gallery is just five years old, Emanuel Layr has been instrumental in bringing Vienna’s art scene a level of experimentation and freshness often associated with more emerging art centers like Berlin’s Neukölln, London’s Peckham, and New York’s Lower East Side. Layr’s current show for curated by_vienna, organized by independent curator Catherine Chevalier and gallery artist Benjamin Hirte, inaugurates a new location just down the road from his former gallery. With a more polished exhibition space expanded over two floors, Layr’s new home sets an ambitious tone for the next generation of the local art scene’s growth.
Just down the street from Kargl, Gabriele Senn Galerie presents a mix of Austrian and international artists. Also selected to be a part of curated by_vienna, Senn Galerie is currently presenting “FAMED–Privileg der Umstände” (“Privilege of Circumstances”), in which Marcus Andrew Hurttig has brought together over 15 works which all, in their own way, critically analyze today’s art market.
Georg Kargl Fine Arts
Schleifmühlgasse 5, A-1040
One of the first galleries in Schleifmühlgasse, Georg Kargl boasts a roster of impressive artists that includes Mark Dion and Agnes Fuchs. Kargl is currently hosting the group show “Subtle Patterns of Capital” as part of curated by_vienna. Meanwhile, some of the gallery’s artists are presenting works next door at Kargl’s companion space, the BOX, which has a Richard Artschwager-designed facade.
Galerie Hubert Winter
Breite G. 17, 1070
David Garner. Timepiece. 2015. Factory Clock, Audio (“Ticky Tock” – works and music by Woody Guthrie and Hans-Eckhardt Wenzel © 2003 BMG Bumblebee (BMI) All Rights Administered by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved)
Representing Austrian and international artists including Birgit Jürgenssen, Francesca Woodman, and Nil Yalter (whose work harkens back to the surrealism that underpinned the gallery at the time of its founding in 1971), Hubert Winter is a mainstay of Vienna’s contemporary scene. Like many commercial galleries on this list, Hubert Winter isn’t afraid to address the realities of commerce, and its current exhibition for curated by_vienna, “On Being in the Middle,” seeks to hold “a distorted mirror to capitalism.”
Kerstin Engholm Galerie
Schleifmühlgasse 3, 1040
Installation view of "Cartoon Physics," courtesy of Kerstin Engholm Galerie
Since its founding in 1999 by Kerstin Engholm, this gallery has dedicated itself to young conceptual artists from Austria and around the globe, with projects often tailored to its notably thin, rectangular space. For curated by_vienna the gallery is hosting “Cartoon Physics,” curated by Kunstverein Munich director Chris Fitzpatrick. The show features 2,000 science fiction books lining the walls, along with additional creations by Post Brothers, Nick Bastis, Nina Beier, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, and others.
Installation view of "Gavin Turk—A Vision," courtesy of Galerie Krinzinger
Founded by Ursula Krinzinger in 1971 with a program based around Viennese Actionism, a movement headlined by the radical performance-based work of artists such as Otto Muehl and Hermann Nitsch that laid the way for Fluxus art, Galerie Krinzinger has long tradition of embracing some of the art world’s edgier makers. Since the ‘70s, the gallery’s stable has grown to include a who’s who of performance and art related to the body, Marina Abramović, Chris Burden, and Mike Kelley among them. The gallery has simultaneously charted new territory with a project space, a global residency program, and a growing roster of rising stars like Secundino Hernandez, whose work is on view now (as part of curated by_vienna) alongside solo shows by Gavin Turk and Erik van Lieshout.
Eschenbachgasse 9, A-1010
Located in Vienna’s magnificent Palais Eschenbach, Helga and Peter Krobath’s gallery presents dynamic shows of cutting-edge contemporary work. “Notes on Sculpture,” for curated by_vienna, sees curator Friederike Nymphius exploring themes of physicality and the art market through an impressive range of contemporary sculpture by artists Martin Boyce, Dominik Lang, and Katja Strunz.
Galerie Martin Janda
Eschenbachgasse 11, 1010
Polly Korbel, Work, 2015
Founded by Martin Janda in 1992, the gallery continues its long history of exhibiting cutting-edge contemporary work with “The * of Love,” curated by identity-bending artist Joe Scanlan for curated by_vienna. Through engaging drawings, sculpture, and performance, artists Doug Ashford, Geta Brătescu, Dexter Sinister, and Polly Korbel explore the relationship between art and love. “Art,” writes Scanlan, “is a complex rhythm, a commitment that despises routine.”
Galerie Meyer Kainer
Eschenbachgasse 9, 1010
Dan Graham, Liam Gillick, and Franz West are just a few of the standout names on the Meyer Kainer roster. Opened in 1976 as “Gallery Metropol,” the gallery was redubbed in the late 1990s under the auspices of founders Christian Meyer and Renate Kainer when it moved locations. Strange, colorful, and mechanical works currently fill the gallery for “KAYA V,” an exhibition organized by n.o. madski for curated by_vienna, with works by artist duo Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers.
Installation view of "PRODUKTION," courtesy of Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder
Nächst St. Stephan has a rich history, having occupied its current space since the 1920s. Its current owner, Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, began working there in 1978, when the space was being run as an artist association, and in 1987 bought the gallery and set out to establish a top-notch program based on abstract and conceptual art. Currently on view there for curated by_vienna is “PRODUKTION,”organized by Berlin-based critic Kolja Reichert. The show addresses art’s relationship to economics and technology with works by such artists as Cécile B. Evans, Heinrich Dunst, and Renzo Martens.
GCC, The One and Only Madinat New Museum Royal Mirage, 2014 (Detail of outdoor installation) & Wish We Were Here, 2015 (Postcard)
Founded by father-and-daughter duo Heinrich and Silva Steinek in the early 1980s, Galerie Steinek brings this intergenerational relationship to bear through a diverse and generation-spanning program. The exhibition “Like the Deserts Miss The Real” for curated by_vienna testifies to the gallery’s global reach, bringing together artists like Abdullah Al-Mutairi (b. Kuwait), Raja’a Khalid (b. Saudi Arabia), and Marwa Arsanios (b. U.S.A.).