Sunday, September 03, 2006


Vienna, Day 4.

Woke up at 7:00 a.m. this morning (remember, it is Sunday, today) because I wanted to catch the Vienna Boys' Choir at the Burgkapelle (they sing there very Sunday at 9:15 Mass, but naturally you want to arrive early), but it looks like I was one week too soon: the season starts on September 7th, not September 3rd. Hmmm...I was 1 week too late for the Berlin Philharmonic, and 1 week too early for the Vienna Boys' Choir. I haven't been too lucky with the timing for good music during this trip, huh? :( Oh well.

Anyway, today I saw the Lipizzaner horse dressage exhibition (yesterday was just the tour of the stables, but the real dressage performance was today). See for instance the multiple videos I managed to sneak or sometimes even unabashedly shamelessly take in spite of the several personal warnings I received from the ushers as to the fact that such activity was explicitly forbidden. Oh well. My excuse is: once in a lifetime opportunity, you know? Besides, I wasn't using flash or making noise, nor will I use the photos for publicity purposes. Oh wait, I am making them public on the web. Forgot about that. You won't tell them, will you?

Now, the horses here are very pretty, indubitably, but honestly, Mexican "charreadas" are far more exciting: the horses move faster, the costumes are more colorful, and the feats look more dangerous and bold. Here, everything was so sober and disciplined and the hour and a half of Strauss and weenie Mozart to accompany (background music) the exercises made it....boring, after a while. If you think that both horse and rider go to school for 10 years for this....

Anyway, afterwards I headed over to the Leopold Museum at the nearby Museumsquartier where they apparently have a nice collection of Gustav Klimt and which I very much wanted to see, because he is my mother's favorite painter.

Now, Klimt is kind of cool not just because of his original, characteristic gold and colorfully ornamented paintings, but because, like Picasso, Klimt too started in the classical tradition, he was a painter first, an innovator later, and had the combination of execution and talent spark I claim you need before any of your creations can be called "art". But with Klimt (and unlike Picasso) even in his classic portraits his lines are loose, free: even in these early, traditional paintings you can literally see the spark of genius!

I didn't like the way the Leopold museum mixed-and-matched one room with Klimt and then the next one right adjacent to it with Schiele, though, it was a bit confusing: better start with one painter, stick with him and finish before you transition to the next, otherwise it rather feel like you just finished watching only 1 chapter of the "telenovela", and you're left in very cruel suspense!

Anyway, Egon Schiele lays down color with the palette/knife thingy (I don't remember it's proper name, when I think about it I'll let you know), then smoothes it with his fingers, it seems. He doesn't use a brush at all, only barely with thin diluted paint for outlines which he lays after using very thick dry paint for background.

As I was observing this a woman curator hassled me for standing too close to the picture even though I was standing well behind the thin metal barrier 30 cms off the ground. Supposedly, because my shadow would set off the alarm! What is it with German speakers? They seem to always find some very idiotic reason to get on my case when I'm visiting museums. {sigh}

Anyway, back to Schiele. You can tell he uses his fingers simply because there are fingerprint marks on the smoothed paint. But then in another picture, he lay the paint thick with the paddle, waited for it to dry a bit, and then run a little rake through it and used the cracks that thus appeared on the dry paintas part of the rock texture for the picture! Cool huh? So he was kind of "paint-sculpturing", that is, lay the paint thick, then sculpt it using fingers or other tools. Interesting.

Also, I'm afraid I cannot show you at the moment (I was unable to take pictures of this), but his signatures are like little artworks themselves, and they're never quite the same, though they're always rather encased in a square or hinted quadrilateral. His house paintings, too, use neat perspectives. See for instance his "Der Häuserbogen (Inselstadt) 1915" a.k.a "Crescent of Houses". The trees too (lower left-hand corner in the picture), are kind of neat: geometric, with lots of angles, the holes are triangles, no curves, the only curves caused by clumping of such constituent triangles. Way cool.

He tends to like orange a lot, especially around woman figures, and his palette is dominated by orange, ochre, brown, red, yellow, black earth colors, very few greens and blues and purples and when they do pop out the effect is incredibly eye-catching and refreshing, see for instance "Mütter mit Zwei Kindern II 1915" or the "Haus mit Schindeldach 1915" (sorry, the colors on the web pictures are not as bright as they are in real life, unfortunately).

You know, Schiele died at 28! And all that, so much work done already!

I think I rather like it when the painters just lay down the paint, then deal with it later, shape it by hand or brush, but such that the painting is no longer just painting but a painting and sculpture blend into one. Contrast this with the scientific, precise, thin brushstroke and deliberate placing of paint--makes more realistic-looking picutres, but the first way shows more...feelings. "The essence", that is. {shrug}

The New School of Vienna (Kokolschka, Blavensteiner, etc) is a bit like the French impressionists but a little bit more bold (with colors and the laying down of paint), unapologetic, uncontrolled. Texturizing becomes important. Take for instance Koloman Moser. For trees, he uses the texture of the canvas itself to give the impression of individual leaves! Now, Herbert Boeckl, he laid the paint so thick it comes up 2 cm from the canvas! He probably had to wait a looong time for the bottom paint to dry before he could layer more on. That man must've had a patience of steel, though from his careless outlines (see for instance his "Portrait of Josef von Wertheimstein") you wouldn't know it! Now, Egger-Lienz would've made a socialists' dream painter--a good part of his works seem to be about rural life or very flatteringly portrayed, with low perspectives from ground up and making them appear majestic, farmers at work!

Anyway, after hanging out for a bit at the Leopold, I headed right across the quartier to the Museum of Moderne Kunst, where I found nothing that attracted my attention for more than half a second except for this short film by Rashid Masharawi called "Waiting". They didn't show the whole film, just a 10 minute or so section in which he is trying to audition actors for an unspecified film about...."waiting." It is a very nice section, because he is sitting there in front of the camera, tells the actors: "O.K., for your audition, I need to see how you 'wait'", and then sits back and waits around for the actors to do something.

Now, the actors are obviously very interested in getting the part, so they ask tons of questions, like: "Yes, but what character am I playing?"

Rashid: "You are playing a character that is waiting."

Actress: "Yes, but what is the character like? Is she a mother, what is her personality like?"

Rashid: "She is a character that is waiting. Show me how you wait."

Actress: "But yes, but what is the plot about?"

Rashid: "It is unimportant now. I just want to see you waiting."

and so on and so forth, Rashid impassible calmly repeating always: "Just show me how you wait." until the actress finally and sits down on the chair provided and attempts to act "someone who is waiting" by humming and looking at her watch every 4 seconds (and therefore not doing a very good job).

Or another actress, who finally gives up, sits down, and lights a cigarette, offers one to Rashid, and they sit there for several long minutes in front of a static camera just smoking and....waiting.

Yet another [more experienced, and evidently very sharp/talented/clueful] actor:

"But what am I waiting for? Waiting for a lover is not the same as waiting for the bus, which is also not the same as waiting at a hospital for surgery. Which one am I waiting for?"

Rashid: "It doesn't matter, you pick, I just want to see how you wait."

Again, the exchange going nowhere for several minutes, until the actor finally bursts out with:

"Forget it! I don't want to wait! You wait! I'm leaving!!"

It was a very neat film clip and I have no doubt the full length ought to be just as good, which pleased me since it showed that at least this contemporary art museum's exhibit was not a complete waste of time like most of the others.

1 comment:

Giancarlo said...

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