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Contemporary Art Collection

Curator: Bärbel Vischer
The circa 1,500 works, work groups and bundles of documentation contained in this collection encompass the areas of fine art and architecture: from avant-garde movements of the 1920s to current artistic stances, the holdings encompass works in various media such as drawing, painting, photography video and film, as well as objects, sculptures, installations, environments and architecture-related contributions including designs, models and animations.

Since its establishment as a museum for art and industry, contemporary art has played an ideational role at the MAK. The objective is to offer a laboratory for artistic production and an educational platform: applied art is placed in the context of both fine art and architecture in order to generate synergies. These programmatic considerations led to the establishment of the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art in 1986.
 

The starting point of this confrontation with contemporary art and the basis of the MAK Collection of Contemporary art consists in the artistic interventions in the museum’s permanent collection: the early 1990s saw figures including Barbara Bloom and Donald Judd charged with the development of new forms of presentation for the MAK’s historical holdings in close collaboration with the museum’s collection curators. Planned as alternative approaches and a continuation of the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), these innovative ways of exhibiting reflect the principle according to which an artwork can be understood both as being embedded in a historical context and from the vantage point of said context.
 

The main focus of the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art is on international contemporary art stances with special attention given to selected Austrian artists. The lion’s share of these works were created within the context of exhibitions and projects developed specifically for the museum, with the exhibition medium itself participating in the works’ history and artistic production in a way comparable to that of a snapshot. In this way, relationships of continuous collaboration with regard to conceptual strategies of artistic practice developed with artists including Walter Pichler, Franz West and Heimo Zobernig.
 

The MAK Collection of Contemporary Art is characterized by the contextual shifting of applied art, design and architecture. The methodical juxtaposition of works from multi-genre areas of the MAK Collection with contemporary art opens up new perspectives on various historical aspects, with political issues also coming into view. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov decipher the concept of utopia, while Marko Lulic deals with sociocultural phenomena of modernism and Peter Friedl and Georg Herold question the construction of history. In large-scale installations, Atelier Van Lieshout, Liam Gillick and Josef Dabernig examine topics such as societal values and institutionalized systems.


Architecture as a theme of visual art is a further element of the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art, with new perspectives on the performative aspect of architecture being put up for discussion. Werner Feiersinger, Andreas Fogarasi, Martin Kippenberger, Gordon Matta-Clark and Dorit Margreiter sketch unusual ideas of architecture and refer to their sculptural qualities. Herbert Bayer and Alfons Schilling, on the other hand, deal in their sculptural works with phenomena of perception and interaction on the part of the viewer.

The sculpture as a social mobile is a theme of the current conception of applied art. Walter Pichler’s Fingerspanner (1967) makes it possible to lengthen human limbs in the manner of prostheses, while Franz West condenses his “Passstücke” concept in the sculpture Eo Ipso (1987), which functions as an experiencable body or “sitting machine.” It is with multifunctional creations that Plamen Dejanoff/Svetlana Heger, Birgit Jürgenssen and Erwin Wurm stage utilitarian objects as repertoire of the social space. In doing so, they question parameters of modern sculpture and explore contemporary conceptions of the “artwork” that are grounded in conceptual art.

The planned repositioning of the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art under Director Christoph Thun-Hohenstein is oriented toward socio-politically relevant issues in a global context, toward the tension between applied art and contemporary art, toward the integration of current international movements and new art forms, and toward the examination and research of important historical artistic stances. At the same time, artistic examination of the holdings of the MAK Collection is to be promoted in the areas of applied art and design as well as architecture; one purpose of doing so is to explore cultural interconnections and critically question the process of identity-creation.

Architecture in the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art
The MAK defines itself as a platform for international tendencies in architecture which generate experimental developments dealing with the overarching themes of society. Having been founded as the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry, the museum (and, at the time, school) was able to attract architects and designers including Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser around the turn of the last century.

Practice-oriented synergies in architecture are manifested today, for example, in interventions in the historical building substance on Vienna’s Ringstraße, designed by Heinrich von Ferstel, as well as in the lively use of the inspiring legacy left behind by the Austrian-American architect Rudolph M. Schindler in Los Angeles, which serves the museum as a site of public discourse. Programmatically, architecture is made palpable as a special field of applied art in the museum’s collecting and exhibiting activities, with the lecture series Changing Architecture illuminating current perspectives with guest lectures by figures including Zvi Hecker and Kazuyo Sejima.

Progressive artistic stances in the area where architecture and art overlap, such as those of Vito Acconci, Raimund Abraham, Hans Hollein, Bernard Rudofsky, Carlo Scarpa and Friedrich Kiesler, whose design “Raumstadt” unites a sculptural forms and functional associations in modern architecture, represent a further focus in the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art.

Ideas of modernism as they relate to social issues are formulated by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, who by developing her Frankfurt Kitchen prototype became the best-known Austrian architect of her generation. With major contemporary stances like those of Zaha Hadid, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU; Günther Domenig, Frank O. Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind and others, the MAK examines architecture in light of visionary developments. The studies by Greg Lynn and Hernán Díaz Alonso, on the other hand, are characterized by an amorphous, computer-generated architectural language and also influence Austrian architects such as Matias del Campo and Sandra Manninger/SPAN, whose works have likewise been shown at the MAK.

Kunst im öffentlichen Raum

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Franz West – Four Lemurheads

The Four Lemurheads were mounted on the bridge (the Stubenbrücke) next to the MAK main building on the occasion of the exhibition Franz West: Merciless in 2001. Although originally planned to remain there for the term of the exhibition only, the four sculptures were given to the MAK as permanent loans and can therefore stay where they are.

Stubenbrücke, 1010 Vienna
How to get there: U3 / tram line 2 / Stubentor, U4 / Landstraße (Wien Mitte)
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James Turrell – MAKlite

In James Turrell’s permanent installation MAKlite, intensive light pulsates in the windows of the MAK. With the unreality of a dream, the brick façade loses its static solidity, appearing as a shimmering, translucent membrane that hints, wordlessly but emphatically, of transfers being made: by means of this inner radiance, the MAK communicates to its urban surroundings the complex proceedings being effected within.

Permanent installation on the façade of the MAK since 2004

MAK, Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna
How to get there: U3 / tram line 2 / Stubentor, U4 / Landstraße (Wien Mitte)
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Michael Kienzer – Stylit

In his piece Stylit, Michael Kienzer addresses the subject of sculpture in the public sphere: he interprets space as an archive of objects, which he juxtaposes with an elongated vertical sculpture which, however, unlike all other urban furnishing objects and elements, is marked by perplexing differences. On the end of a several meter long rod or pipe, which grows out of a pot-like pedestal, he mounts a well pump which—unreachable for pedestrians passing by—sits at the height of the treetops and street lights.

Using simple tools and everyday (ready-made) materials, Michael Kienzer repeatedly succeeds anew in breaking up perceptual patterns and creating shrewdly differentiated spatial situations.

Stylit was created for the exhibition Michael Kienzer. New Properties
Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna
How to get there: U3 / tram line 2 / Stubentor, U4 / Landstraße (Wien Mitte)
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Donald Judd – Stage Set

Donald Judd's Stage Set is the expression of an uncompromising vision situated between art and architecture. Six panels made from differently colored strips of fabric are mounted at differing heights within a steel framework of 7.5 x 10 x 12.5 m. These panels rhythmize the open space and visualize serializations and processes that are characteristic of Judd's work Donald Judd developed Stage Set for the MAK in 1991 on the occasion of his exhibition Architecture. The installation was gifted to the city of Vienna in 1995, and it has stood in Vienna’s Stadtpark since 1996.
 

Stadtpark, 1030 Vienna
How to get there: U4 / Stadtpark, U3, U4 / Landstraße (Wien Mitte), tram line 2 / Weihburggasse

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Philip Johnson – Wiener Trio

Philip Johnson's Wiener Trio was installed at the intersection of Franz-Josefs-Kai and Schottenring in 1998. Each element of the tripartite object has a sculptural character of its own. Seen together, however, they represent a kind of architecture, reflecting the American architect's longstanding and intense exploration of monumentality.
Philip Johnson developed this object in 1996 for a MAK exhibition entitled Turning Point. The installation of this extraordinary object in the public space was made possible through the generous support of the insurance company Wiener Städtische Allgemeine Versicherungs AG.
 

Franz-Josefs-Kai/Schottenring (across the street from the Ringturm), 1010 Vienna
How to get there: U2, U4, tram lines 1 + 31 / Schottenring


Acquired for the MAK Contemporary Art Collection

from funds provided by 2009/2010/2011 gallery grants of the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture

The internationally oriented MAK Collection of Contemporary Art funds its focus on selected Austrian artistic stances mainly via gallery grants from the bm:ukk—Austria’s Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture. Acquisitions since 2009 have included works by artists such as Josef Dabernig, Andreas Fogarasi and Peter Friedl.

Rudi Stanzel

Rise/Fall, 2010
This intervention was developed by Rudi Stanzel specifically for the MAK Tower as a reaction to the former Arenbergpark flak tower’s monolithic form. Intending to penetrate the structure of the tower in its verticality, Stanzel created a monumental and yet membrane-like suspended sculpture of individual aluminum chains for the tower’s central stairwell.

GK 319
Rudi Stanzel
Rise/Fall, 2010

Aluminum, anodized
Installation
3,400 x 90 x 45 cm

Andreas Fogarasi

Untitled (Wise Corners), 2010
The design for the marble objects in Andreas Fogarasi’s installation Untitled (Wise Corners) is based on the conception of a “Final Projects” exhibition (2006) at the Schindler House—a location of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles; they were generated by a dialog with architectural elements of the presentation space, the material language of which Fogarasi quotes. These sculptures function as carriers for photographs that show works of architecture built for exhibition-related purposes. The installation’s form, concept and theme combine to produce a single whole embedded in a dense network of evoked associations.
The objects were shown and acquired in connection with the MAK exhibition ENVISIONED BUILDINGS. Reflecting Architecture in Contemporary Art Photography (7 December 2011–22 April 2012).
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GK 626
Andreas Fogarasi
Untitled (Wise Corners), 2010

Ten marble (Rosso Levanto) sculptures with mounted photographs, ten photographs for the wall
Sculptures: 148.5 x 110 x 34 cm each, photographs: either 45 x 25 or 25 x 45 cm

Josef Dabernig

Ohne Titel [Without Title], 1988/2010
In the presentation 1 sculpture 2 versions, Josef Dabernig analyzed the location of the artwork as an idea. In doing so, he used a modular system to focus the multifaceted interplay between the given symmetrical structure of the MAK Columned Main Hall and his rhythmic intervention. The 1988/2010 installation Ohne Titel, comprising 48 pieces of folded steel sheet, was presented sequentially in two variants which were each developed individually in order to conform to the specific spaces for which they were intended. It was originally realized as four-walled sheet metal channels modeled on the pre-formed duct elements used in climate control systems. Dabernig later on dismantled these constructions to save space, thereby producing a mobile and variable sculpture for which presentation within various spatial contexts became a part of the formal and substantive concept. In contrast to static constructions, the sculptural models thus created became understandable via sequences of possible scenographic interpretations of the space. To this end, a single spatial situation was dismantled into two outtakes and presented as a sequence of consecutive tableaux. In their respective logics, the various arrangements of the metal sheets provided interpretations of their relationships to architecture while simultaneously referring to the manifold ways of employing one and the same sculptural vocabulary.

GK 607
Josef Dabernig
Ohne Titel, 1988

Steel sheets, galvanized
48-part installation, variable dimensions

Hans Schabus

Astronaut, 2003
Previously installed on the roof of the Vienna Secession building, at Schabus’s studio (2003) and at the Villa Manin ¬– Centro d’arte contemporanea in Codroipo near Udine (2007/2008), Hans Schabus’s work Astronaut relates to specific contexts and special characteristics of spaces. In this respect, the sign can also be read as standing for the artist Hans Schabus himself and the way in which he works. It has repeatedly occupied and explored new sites in order to create new perceptive vantage points. In the case of the MAK Tower, the work has been placed in dialog with the inside of the exterior wall. The sign, just like the site itself, subverts the existing context and opens up new latitudes for action.

GK 595
Hans Schabus
Astronaut, 2003

Aluminum, wood, concrete building blocks, fluorescent lamps, wiring, various types of fastenings
Installation
220 x 10.000 x 100 cm

Jochen Traar

Art Protects You, 1996
Since 1994, Jochen Traar has been formulating his art under the label Art Protects You. Conceived for the public realm, this work by Traar questions the urban experience. The group of letters making up “Art Protects You” is the core element of his Letter Triology, with which Jochen Traar traced and characterized the movement dynamics of Los Angeles (1996), Vienna (1997) and Venice (1999). As part of his MAK Schindler Scholarship in 1996, the red letters were mounted on the beds of 14 pickup trucks and sent on a drive through the heavy traffic of Los Angeles’s inner-city freeways.
 
GK 594
Jochen Traar
Art Protects You, 1996

Plywood, polyester, varnish, rollers; 14 letters
Installation
255 x 180 x 50 cm each

Peter Friedl

Neue Straßenverkehrsordnung  [New Rules of the Road], 2000
In Peter Friedl’s piece Neue Straßenverkehrsordnung, a moment of historical construction reappears in the artistic medium of neon lettering made to look like a child’s handwriting. This work refers to an early pamphlet of the German RAF (Red Army Faction), written in prison in 1971. Under the title of “On Armed Struggle in Europe”, the author outlines models and opportunities for revolutionary activity in various Western European cities and formulates a political program of sorts. The text was circulated under the cover name “New Rules of The Road,” a shrewd allusion to the power of existing structures and public order (the title being an ironic reference to the new traffic regulations that went into effect in Germany during that same year). Conceived as a loop, Friedl’s work transforms messages and communicates instances of recoding, effects which art is capable of having on historic moments and monuments.
 
GK 696
Peter Friedl
Neue Straßenverkehrsordnung, 2000

Neon tubes, wiring, transformers
Neon installation
215 x 700 x 6 cm

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