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.

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.

Freier Artikel

Acquired for the MAK Contemporary Art Collection

from funds provided by 2009–17 gallery grants of the Federal Chancellery of Austria / Arts Division
more »

Expositur

MAK Tower

On a floor space of 4,000 m2, the MAK Contemporary Art Collection is presented at the MAK Tower, a former flak tower in Arenbergpark in Vienna’s 3rd district.
more »

Freier Artikel

Art in Public Space

more »

MAK Collection

James Turrell – MAKlite

more »

Art in Public Space

Franz West – 4 Larvae (Lemur Heads)

After an extensive restoration with the support of the lender and the Franz West Privatstiftung as well as the MAK ART SOCIETY (MARS), the 4 Larvae (Lemur Heads) (2001) by Franz West (1947–2012) have returned to the Stubenbrücke in Vienna in January 2016. On the occasion of the MAK retrospective Franz West: Merciless in 2001, the 4 Larvae (Lemur Heads) were displayed on the pylons of the Stubenbrücke, which connects Weiskirchnerstraße and Landstraßer Hauptstraße in the city center.
 
The seemingly ancient 4 Larvae (Lemur Heads) made of painted, sculpted aluminum, which extend up to three meters in height, invite viewers to engage in a dialogue with the sculptural objects and combine with the symbolism of the inherently flowing water of the River Wien, whose loose, flexible, and unpredictable form leads to associations with chaos as a creative flow and a primeval material.

Stubenbrücke, 1010 Vienna
How to get there: U3 / tram line 2 / busses 3A, 74A / Stubentor, U4 / Landstraße (Wien Mitte)

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)

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)

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

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