Lower Austrian State Collections

From the Middle Ages to the Present

The art collection is a key part of Lower’s Austria State Collections and comprises some 60.000 objects, including masterpieces from past centuries and outstanding contemporary art.

Lower Austrian State Collections

A side from important works from the Middle Ages and the Baroque era, the collection is focused on the period between the nineteenth and the twenty-first century. It covers all forms of visual art – from prints, drawings, photographs, and paintings all the way to sculptures, media art, and installations. The collection also comprises numerous donations and estates, such as those of Leo Navratil and Christa Hauer-Fruhmann. Now, after more than one hundred years of its history, the collection will be housed for the first time in a museum that is dedicated solely to art.

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

Decaying Mill

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

Egon Schiele hated the war. His diary entries from 1916 tell the story of an artist reluctantly performing his duties at the POW camp Mühling. Schiele’s vision of the “United States of Europe” encapsulates how strongly he longed for a future of community and collaboration. He spent every spare minute outdoors, drawing, painting, and jotting down notes. The “Decaying Mill” is the central main work from this period and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful pictures in Schiele’s oeuvre. He himself called this work, which shows an old, derelict mountain mill, his “perhaps most beautiful landscape.” Today the painting that was begun on June 1, 1916, and was once owned by movie-directing legend Fritz Lang is the most valuable moveable object the state of Lower Austria owns.

Egon Schiele, Decaying Mill, 1916
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Decaying Mill

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Elke Silvia Krystufek

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Eyes wide open, a fixed gaze that appears surprised, but also provocative. Since the days of her youth, Elke Silvia Krystufek has documented and staged her life through painting and photography, in films and performances. Her body is her medium, the artist often works with nude pictures of herself, seemingly revealing personal and intimate moments of her life. Krystufek artfully plays with the line between the private sphere and public life, recreating herself as a fictional character with flashy wigs and self-made clothes. Her text fragments are written in English, gender issues and voyeurism are recurring themes. In “A Minor History,” Krystufek exposes herself to the viewers’ gaze. As so often, she makes herself highly vulnerable at the same time. 

 

Elke Silvia Krystufek, A Minor History, 2000
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Elke Silvia Krystufek

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Art That is Meant to be Used

Franz West

Art That is Meant to be Used

Art That is Meant to be Used

Franz West challenged the tenets of traditional art. In a highly humorous manner, he questioned and expanded the concept of sculpture. West turned against a strict separation of art object and viewing, his “Adaptives” were conceived as “body-extending prostheses” while their exact function mostly remained an enigma. The artist invites viewers to use or wear his objects and adapt them to their bodies, they are thus items of practical use as well as sculptures. It is only in connection with an action that they become a work of art. The artist deliberately used “poor” materials that are commonly not associated with art, especially papier-mâché and plaster. Traces of his work process are always visible, nothing is slick and perfect, which gives these works a casual, experimental character.  Even when West worked with aluminum, which he used for outdoor sculptures, the welding seams of his objects are plainly visible and illustrate his distaste for sleek perfectionism. 

Franz West, Adaptives, 1981
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Rita Newman

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Franz West

Art That is Meant to be Used

A Portrait of Austria

Herbert Boeckl, The Great Theater of the World

A Portrait of Austria

A Portrait of Austria

Herbert Boeckl submitted his variation on Calderon’s “The Great Theater of the World” to the competition for the fire curtain for the reopening of the Vienna State Opera in 1955. After the war and the occupation period, this project became a central symbol of Austria’s new identity. Boeckl, who went on to become a major influence on the next generation of artists, depicted Austria as overcoming the devastation wrought by the war and opening up towards a new start at the international level. Calderon’s play is transformed into a surreal show. In place of the creator who choreographs world events, a harlequin puppet takes the stage, wearing red, white, and red striped pants and summoning curious hybrid creatures. That was too much for the jury. It gave the nod to Rudolf Hermann Eisenmenger who, admired by Adolf Hitler, served as president of Vienna’s Künstlerhaus during the war years 1939—1945.

Boeckl’s work is on display at the at the Forum Frohner as part of the exhibition „Rot ich weiß Rot. Kritische Kunst für Österreich,“ which runs from May 12 through November 6, 2016.

Herbert Boeckl, The Great Theater of the World, 1955
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Herbert Boeckl, The Great Theater of the World

A Portrait of Austria

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

Hermann Nitsch

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

„I want to create highly expressive art,“ says Hermann Nitsch, „an art that’s a wake-up call, that makes people realize they exist.“ He created his first Pour Paintings in 1961. Colors and blood were poured and splashed onto large canvases, spread with bare hands and only rarely applied with a brush. Soon, however, painterly actions and the Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries took center stage – a life-affirming feast of being that appeals to all the senses and is mostly staged at the artist’s residence, Prinzendorf Castle, Lower Austria. In place of paintings, relics now emerged from actions, for instance cloths and garments dyed with blood. It was only in the nineteen eighties that Nitsch began painting again. Now other colors came into the picture, but red still prevailed. It is the most intense color, a symbol of flesh and blood, love and violence, life and death.

Hermann Nitsch, Pour Painting, 1986
© Lower State of Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Hermann Nitsch

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

Johann Feilacher

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

Johann Feilacher has been climbing mountains since he was young. In an area where forests transition to rugged landscapes, he once discovered old, stone-like pieces of wood in scree slopes. “They were grey,” the artist recounts, “if you cut into their surfaces, you suddenly saw a bright red.” The sight of these objects and their archaic appearance sparked the artistic idea that turned wood into Feilacher’s preferred raw material. “It seems to me that wood is so fitting for the digital age because it is an organic material that continues to move. It creates a counter point to our ‘artificial’ world.” Be it oak, elm or pinewood, Feilacher only uses dead logs. He works on them with a chain saw, but his incisions emerge from a dialog and an attempt to preserve the inner qualities of wood, or, to reveal them. Through his creative process, the dead wood undergoes a metamorphosis and takes on new life and meaning. 

Johann Feilacher, Pinewood Bow, 1998
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Johann Feilacher

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

Ladies

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

The inspiration came from a photograph taken in 1968, which shows a circle of elegantly dressed men together with a single woman. Their last names are written above their heads: Steiger, Kalb, Pichler, Attersee, Graf, and Wiener – only the woman is identified by her first name, “Ingrid.” This photo perfectly characterizes the macho attitude of the male dominated art crowd of the times. The answer comes twenty years later in the form of a postcard. Titled “The four new members of the First Vienna Male Choral Society,” it shows four women posing in front of the camera, looking cool, perfectly styled, and fashionable. The women’s artist group “Die Damen” (“The Ladies”) was born, an “Agency for Self-Confident Art by Women” comprising of Ona B., Evelyne Egerer, Birgit Jürgenssen, and Ingeborg Strobl. In elaborate photo shootings and performances, their emancipatory stance is staged in a cool and humorous manner. With wry self-irony, they explore the status women in the art world and in society. 

The Ladies, The First Vienna Male Choral Society,1988
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Ladies

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

Olga Wisinger-Florian

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

There was hardly another nineteenth-century artist who could hold a candle to Olga Wisinger-Florian’s stellar career. Her exhibitions were celebrated in Vienna, Germany, and at the World Fairs in Paris and Chicago. The artist also received international awards and honors in England, France, and the US. Initially, Wisinger-Florian had aspired to become a concert pianist and had only turned to painting for health reasons. In a time when women were barred from studying at the academy, she became the first female student of Emil Jakob Schindler in 1880. Wisinger-Florian was also strongly committed to the fight for women’s rights and an activist in the peace movement.

The painting “A View From the Krems Valley” was on display at Vienna’s Künstlerhaus and Munich’s Glaspalast (Glass Palace) and shows the Krems valley in late summer. It was probably part of the artist’s Months Cycle, which she presumably created in 1890/92.

Olga Wisinger-Florian, A View From the Krems Valley, 1890/1892
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Olga Wisinger-Florian

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

A Political Painting Nonetheless

Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait with a Stick

A Political Painting Nonetheless

A Political Painting Nonetheless

Some works of art show a person from a private angle, but still carry significant political meaning. The tranquility of this painting is misleading as it dates back to turbulent times. After the civil war of 1934, Oskar Kokoschka left Vienna and headed to Prague where he stayed until he emigrated to England. The political developments caught up with the artist in June 1935 when the Czech government passed a law that prohibited foreigners from engaging in political activities. Even though president Thomas Garrigue Masaryk subsequently arranged for Kokoschka to be granted Czech citizenship, the artist was appalled at the changes sweeping Europe.

Surrounded by states with authoritarian forms of government (corporative state in Austria, National Socialism in Germany) the artist saw himself in the role of a wayfarer stopping for a rest in the midst of an idyllic landscape. This image of a quiet moment of thoughtful reflection is one of the artist’s most beautiful self-portraits.

Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait with A Stick, 1935
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait with a Stick

A Political Painting Nonetheless

Oddball and Universal Artist

Padhi Frieberger

Oddball and Universal Artist

Oddball and Universal Artist

“A genius is at work here — and no one takes notice,” that is how, tongue-in-cheek, Padhi Frieberger characterized his art. He consistently refused to play by the rules of the art market or take part in its busyness. Throughout his life, he was considered a “nonconformist” and an “outsider in Austria’s art scene.” Working with all imaginable media and forms of expression, Frieberger was an artist through and through, but he could not stand being labeled a “Lebenskünstler,” i.e., one whose “life is his art,” even if the hermit lifestyle he led on Hagenberg Castle fits this cliché and his art and life merged into a “Padhiland.” Art is not about what one does, but how one does it, Frieberger said, not about creating art, but living it. Krems or Vienna? Frieberger’s place of birth is still an enigma, as so many other things in his life and work.

Padhi Frieberger, Padhi F., 1975
Colour Photography Marcel Houf
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

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Padhi Frieberger

Oddball and Universal Artist

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The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

Decaying Mill

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

The Centennial Birthday of State Collections

Egon Schiele hated the war. His diary entries from 1916 tell the story of an artist reluctantly performing his duties at the POW camp Mühling. Schiele’s vision of the “United States of Europe” encapsulates how strongly he longed for a future of community and collaboration. He spent every spare minute outdoors, drawing, painting, and jotting down notes. The “Decaying Mill” is the central main work from this period and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful pictures in Schiele’s oeuvre. He himself called this work, which shows an old, derelict mountain mill, his “perhaps most beautiful landscape.” Today the painting that was begun on June 1, 1916, and was once owned by movie-directing legend Fritz Lang is the most valuable moveable object the state of Lower Austria owns.

Egon Schiele, Decaying Mill, 1916
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Elke Silvia Krystufek

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Private Self-Portrait or Artistic Staging?

Eyes wide open, a fixed gaze that appears surprised, but also provocative. Since the days of her youth, Elke Silvia Krystufek has documented and staged her life through painting and photography, in films and performances. Her body is her medium, the artist often works with nude pictures of herself, seemingly revealing personal and intimate moments of her life. Krystufek artfully plays with the line between the private sphere and public life, recreating herself as a fictional character with flashy wigs and self-made clothes. Her text fragments are written in English, gender issues and voyeurism are recurring themes. In “A Minor History,” Krystufek exposes herself to the viewers’ gaze. As so often, she makes herself highly vulnerable at the same time. 

 

Elke Silvia Krystufek, A Minor History, 2000
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

Art That is Meant to be Used

Franz West

Art That is Meant to be Used

Art That is Meant to be Used

Franz West challenged the tenets of traditional art. In a highly humorous manner, he questioned and expanded the concept of sculpture. West turned against a strict separation of art object and viewing, his “Adaptives” were conceived as “body-extending prostheses” while their exact function mostly remained an enigma. The artist invites viewers to use or wear his objects and adapt them to their bodies, they are thus items of practical use as well as sculptures. It is only in connection with an action that they become a work of art. The artist deliberately used “poor” materials that are commonly not associated with art, especially papier-mâché and plaster. Traces of his work process are always visible, nothing is slick and perfect, which gives these works a casual, experimental character.  Even when West worked with aluminum, which he used for outdoor sculptures, the welding seams of his objects are plainly visible and illustrate his distaste for sleek perfectionism. 

Franz West, Adaptives, 1981
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Rita Newman

A Portrait of Austria

Herbert Boeckl, The Great Theater of the World

A Portrait of Austria

A Portrait of Austria

Herbert Boeckl submitted his variation on Calderon’s “The Great Theater of the World” to the competition for the fire curtain for the reopening of the Vienna State Opera in 1955. After the war and the occupation period, this project became a central symbol of Austria’s new identity. Boeckl, who went on to become a major influence on the next generation of artists, depicted Austria as overcoming the devastation wrought by the war and opening up towards a new start at the international level. Calderon’s play is transformed into a surreal show. In place of the creator who choreographs world events, a harlequin puppet takes the stage, wearing red, white, and red striped pants and summoning curious hybrid creatures. That was too much for the jury. It gave the nod to Rudolf Hermann Eisenmenger who, admired by Adolf Hitler, served as president of Vienna’s Künstlerhaus during the war years 1939—1945.

Boeckl’s work is on display at the at the Forum Frohner as part of the exhibition „Rot ich weiß Rot. Kritische Kunst für Österreich,“ which runs from May 12 through November 6, 2016.

Herbert Boeckl, The Great Theater of the World, 1955
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

Hermann Nitsch

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

The Color Red and the Sap of Life

„I want to create highly expressive art,“ says Hermann Nitsch, „an art that’s a wake-up call, that makes people realize they exist.“ He created his first Pour Paintings in 1961. Colors and blood were poured and splashed onto large canvases, spread with bare hands and only rarely applied with a brush. Soon, however, painterly actions and the Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries took center stage – a life-affirming feast of being that appeals to all the senses and is mostly staged at the artist’s residence, Prinzendorf Castle, Lower Austria. In place of paintings, relics now emerged from actions, for instance cloths and garments dyed with blood. It was only in the nineteen eighties that Nitsch began painting again. Now other colors came into the picture, but red still prevailed. It is the most intense color, a symbol of flesh and blood, love and violence, life and death.

Hermann Nitsch, Pour Painting, 1986
© Lower State of Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

Johann Feilacher

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

A Symbiosis of Art and Nature

Johann Feilacher has been climbing mountains since he was young. In an area where forests transition to rugged landscapes, he once discovered old, stone-like pieces of wood in scree slopes. “They were grey,” the artist recounts, “if you cut into their surfaces, you suddenly saw a bright red.” The sight of these objects and their archaic appearance sparked the artistic idea that turned wood into Feilacher’s preferred raw material. “It seems to me that wood is so fitting for the digital age because it is an organic material that continues to move. It creates a counter point to our ‘artificial’ world.” Be it oak, elm or pinewood, Feilacher only uses dead logs. He works on them with a chain saw, but his incisions emerge from a dialog and an attempt to preserve the inner qualities of wood, or, to reveal them. Through his creative process, the dead wood undergoes a metamorphosis and takes on new life and meaning. 

Johann Feilacher, Pinewood Bow, 1998
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

Ladies

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

Humor Challenges Female Stereotypes

The inspiration came from a photograph taken in 1968, which shows a circle of elegantly dressed men together with a single woman. Their last names are written above their heads: Steiger, Kalb, Pichler, Attersee, Graf, and Wiener – only the woman is identified by her first name, “Ingrid.” This photo perfectly characterizes the macho attitude of the male dominated art crowd of the times. The answer comes twenty years later in the form of a postcard. Titled “The four new members of the First Vienna Male Choral Society,” it shows four women posing in front of the camera, looking cool, perfectly styled, and fashionable. The women’s artist group “Die Damen” (“The Ladies”) was born, an “Agency for Self-Confident Art by Women” comprising of Ona B., Evelyne Egerer, Birgit Jürgenssen, and Ingeborg Strobl. In elaborate photo shootings and performances, their emancipatory stance is staged in a cool and humorous manner. With wry self-irony, they explore the status women in the art world and in society. 

The Ladies, The First Vienna Male Choral Society,1988
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

Olga Wisinger-Florian

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

Superstar and Pioneer of the Women's Movement

There was hardly another nineteenth-century artist who could hold a candle to Olga Wisinger-Florian’s stellar career. Her exhibitions were celebrated in Vienna, Germany, and at the World Fairs in Paris and Chicago. The artist also received international awards and honors in England, France, and the US. Initially, Wisinger-Florian had aspired to become a concert pianist and had only turned to painting for health reasons. In a time when women were barred from studying at the academy, she became the first female student of Emil Jakob Schindler in 1880. Wisinger-Florian was also strongly committed to the fight for women’s rights and an activist in the peace movement.

The painting “A View From the Krems Valley” was on display at Vienna’s Künstlerhaus and Munich’s Glaspalast (Glass Palace) and shows the Krems valley in late summer. It was probably part of the artist’s Months Cycle, which she presumably created in 1890/92.

Olga Wisinger-Florian, A View From the Krems Valley, 1890/1892
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

A Political Painting Nonetheless

Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait with a Stick

A Political Painting Nonetheless

A Political Painting Nonetheless

Some works of art show a person from a private angle, but still carry significant political meaning. The tranquility of this painting is misleading as it dates back to turbulent times. After the civil war of 1934, Oskar Kokoschka left Vienna and headed to Prague where he stayed until he emigrated to England. The political developments caught up with the artist in June 1935 when the Czech government passed a law that prohibited foreigners from engaging in political activities. Even though president Thomas Garrigue Masaryk subsequently arranged for Kokoschka to be granted Czech citizenship, the artist was appalled at the changes sweeping Europe.

Surrounded by states with authoritarian forms of government (corporative state in Austria, National Socialism in Germany) the artist saw himself in the role of a wayfarer stopping for a rest in the midst of an idyllic landscape. This image of a quiet moment of thoughtful reflection is one of the artist’s most beautiful self-portraits.

Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait with A Stick, 1935
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher

Oddball and Universal Artist

Padhi Frieberger

Oddball and Universal Artist

Oddball and Universal Artist

“A genius is at work here — and no one takes notice,” that is how, tongue-in-cheek, Padhi Frieberger characterized his art. He consistently refused to play by the rules of the art market or take part in its busyness. Throughout his life, he was considered a “nonconformist” and an “outsider in Austria’s art scene.” Working with all imaginable media and forms of expression, Frieberger was an artist through and through, but he could not stand being labeled a “Lebenskünstler,” i.e., one whose “life is his art,” even if the hermit lifestyle he led on Hagenberg Castle fits this cliché and his art and life merged into a “Padhiland.” Art is not about what one does, but how one does it, Frieberger said, not about creating art, but living it. Krems or Vienna? Frieberger’s place of birth is still an enigma, as so many other things in his life and work.

Padhi Frieberger, Padhi F., 1975
Colour Photography Marcel Houf
© State of Lower Austria, Lower Austrian State Collections
Photo: Peter Böttcher