031011: Wien Museum Hermesvilla - The Prophet – The World of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach

Wien Museum Hermesvilla The Prophet – The World of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach 07.04.11 to 26.10.11 The Way to Strength and Kohlrabi It's not so long ago that one would have been called a "Kohlrabi Apostle" if one were a vegetarian. Not that Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach - with his long, white habit, Jesus hairstyle and sandals – didn't invite ridicule. At the end of the 19th century, the proto-hippie from Schwabing was regarded as an attraction, rather like the Viennese, Waluliso, in the 80's. Vegetarianism, pacifism, nudism and free love without marital constraint were Diefenbach's progressive ideals, some of which have been borrowed from Munich's Villa Stuck and are now on display in the Hermesvilla. In the 1890's, Diefenbach – always on the run from insolvency and eviction – took part in operating a country commune at Himmelhof, not far from the Lainzer Tiergarten, where – depending on the season and weather – flowing clothes and/or wearing nothing was the order of the day. It's also not difficult to crack a smile at Diefenbach's self-styled missionary work when faced with his paintings, which favour naked children or youths cavorting happily with lions, stags or simply with Mother Nature. At the same time, the lifestyle reformer didn't just turn out to be a paradigmatic phenomena of the many-faceted reform movements of the turn of the century, but – above all in the silhouette of the 68m long frieze per aspera ad astra which follows on the Biedermeier style – as a defining point in the aesthetics of Art Nouveau. The exhibition also documents that the motif of blithe, dancing and cavorting children and animals was also widely reproduced on lamps, plates, cups and even furniture. The frieze's artistic co-worker, Fidus, together with Joseph Maria Olbrich and Peter Behrens, hoped – in vain – to be appointed to the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt. In the end, Fidus' path led to the brown, brackish waters of National Socialism, whilst another Diefenbach apostle, Frantisek Kupka, became one of the founders of abstraction in Modern Art. If nothing else, topicality is prevalent in the excitement of this exhibition that is well worth seeing. By Iris Meder Wien Museum Hermesvilla 1130 Vienna, Lainzer Tiergarten Tel: +43 1 804 13 24 Fax: +43 1 804 13 24 email: office@wienmuseum.at http://www.wienmusem.at Opening hours: 07.04.-26.10.2011 Tue-Sun 10.00-18.00

Wien Museum Hermesvilla
1130 Wien, Lainzer Tiergarten
Tel: +43 1 804 13 24, Fax: +43 1 804 13 24
Email: office@wienmuseum.at
Öffnungszeiten: 07.04.-26.10.2011
Di-So 10-18 h

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