Living in London we are spoilt for choice as far as art and museums are concerned. Just one problem, they are so terribly crowded, experiencing an exhibition is experiencing a constant fight for space, juggling for the coveted position that would allow you to see and take the creation and the creative process in. You only get a few precious seconds before your privileged position shifts under your feet like quicksand. The experience is made even more unpleasant by the presence of attendants screaming at people trying to steal a picture, a momentum of their experience. You are made to feel like a criminal for even thinking taking a lousy picture with your mobile phone is conceivable. That is why by comparison a visit at the museum in Vienna appears to be heavenly, precious, valuable. It is not a stolen, unhindered moment of a skewed view of a masterpiece, the time at one’s disposal appears to be eternal, I’ve seen people doing a full photoshoot in front of Klimt’s divine Kiss. Walking through the Belvedere museum, the upper and lower section, and the many layers of the Leopold museum where fulfilling, enriching experiences. You could absorb the beauty, you could take in the desperation, you could study each brushstroke at your leisure and most importantly take a damn picture as many times as you felt like, so that Schiele nervous, skeletal hands can stay impressed in my mind forever; so that the luxurious bodily landscapes so preciously enriched by Klimt will forever live in my picture collection; so that Kokoschka’s disturbed visions of a man at war with himself and surrounded by war can still haunt me; so that I can feel the fear and the desperation and the beauty of their human experience forever. A few enlightened institutions realize that picture taking and spontaneous posting on social media by their punters works as a very powerful advertising tool. A few embrace it, too few to mention, especially where London is concerned. I visited the last night of Modigliani’s very successful exhibition at Tate modern on Easter Monday only to be put off by the security. It felt like I was entering a ghost museum opening late at night just to maximise their income. London’s uptight attitude to art is making me fall out of love with the city 18 years on.
Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka – Belvedere and Leopold museums in Vienna 27-30 March 2018