070408: Leopold Museum: Albin Egger-Lienz

Leopold Museum: Albin Egger-Lienz Undoubtedly solid It is equally difficult to love, as it is to hate Albin Egger-Lienz. His monolithic figures, his spatial fragmentation, his colouring – all of this is unconventional. On the other hand you have his extremely provincial early- and middle artwork, whose monumentality is subservient to all kinds of ideologies and the oppressive Catholicism (whose artistic conversion the church has, however made to an éclat). The extensive exhibit at the Leopold Museum – the collection itself already comprises 70 paintings and graphics and the entire show encompasses 190 pieces – attempts to rehabilitate Egger-Lienz on the occasion of this 140th birthday. In the catalogue one can read that Austria has inexcusably neglected his works during the post-war era – on account of his association to National Socialism. For a long time the artist, who died in 1926, was considered a kind of posthumous “blood and soil” painter. It would, in a way, be irresponsible to position Egger-Lienz with the Nazi-philosophy. His war paintings depict more suffering than heroism among the soldiers serving their country. But in the catalogue comparisons are made to Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, which are really far fetched: while his German colleagues literally dismember bodies, Egger-Lienz always eschews from maiming human beings – at the most you might see thin flows of blood on their bodies. The monumentality, the geometric-decorative composition of many of his war paintings are similar in style to those works produced for the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung; but admittedly also for the propaganda art of Socialist Realism. The actual exhibit disregards all of this. The show’s thematic display of art proves itself; at the same time it nolens volens presents how Egger-Lienz attained his strong-minded style at a rather late stage: when he finally came to the sinister city of Vienna. The opportunity to compare his art with Constantin Meunier or Franz Defregger makes it to what one would call a solid exhibit. However, there is still a strong need for debate. Leopold Museum 1070 Vienna, Museumsquartier, until 29.05.08 www.leopoldmuseum.org

Leopold Museum
1070 Wien, Museumsquartier
Tel: +43 1 525 70-0, Fax: +43 1 525 70-1500
Email: leopoldmuseum@leopoldmuseum.org
Öffnungszeiten: Mi-So 10-18 h

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