The Albertina Highlights Modernist Paintings From the Batlinger Collection
Vienna, Austria – Under the title “Monet to Picasso”, the Albertina will exhibit its vast holdings of paintings from the period of Modernism, which are primarily made up of works from the Batliner Collection. The epochs covered by this reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection range from Impressionism and Fauvism to German Expressionism, the Bauhaus, and the Russian avant-garde; the presentation concludes with works by Pablo Picasso. “Monet to Picasso” opens on March 14th and will remain on display through December 31st. In spring 2007, one of Europe’s greatest private collections of classical modern art came to the Albertina as a permanent loan from the Rita und Herbert Batliner Foundation in Liechtenstein. The Albertina is now in a unique position to compensate for the major gaps in the Austrian state-run museums’ holdings of international modern art with key works of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, German Expressionism, Fauvism and the Russian avant-garde.
The Batliner Collection has received acclaim from museums and connoisseurs for decades. It includes outstanding works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. These masterpieces can be seen in a new permanent exhibition at the Albertina. The Batliner Collection is augmented by works from the Forberg Collection in Switzerland, which was also transferred to the Albertina on permanent loan. Herbert and Rita Batliner began collecting art nearly half a century ago. Due to their close friendship with the legendary art dealer Ernst Beyeler, French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting formed a cornerstone of the collection from the very beginning, along with the work of Alberto Giacometti. Exceptional works by Monet such as The Water-Lily Pond, Edgar Degas’ Two Dancers, or Cézanne’s Arc-Tal and Mont Sainte-Victoire landscapes attest to the couple’s passion for French art. Picasso became an additional focal point. Today he is represented in the collection with over 40 works, including ten paintings and numerous drawings and one-of-a-kind ceramics.
In the course of his travels, Herbert Batliner gained familiarity with Russian avant-garde art. He and his wife were inspired by the works they saw in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, to build their own fine collection of Russian avant-garde art from 1905-35. The focus of their acquisitions was on Marc Chagall, but they also sought out works by Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova und Mikhail Larionow. The collection includes a major work by Kazimir Malevich, painted as a defiant memory image immediately following the artist’s release from a Stalinist prison. As the collection has grown from decade to decade, so has its recognition within the art world. Herbert and Rita Batliner regularly lent to museums; rare was the Picasso, Monet, Modigliani or Giacometti exhibition that did not include works on loan from the Batliner Collection. Several years ago the Batliners decided to respect the integrity of the collection by transferring the entire collection to a museum as a bequest. Convinced that extraordinary art collections are no less distinctive, and as such worth preserving, than great works of art, the Batliners decided to make their collection accessible to the general public in their lifetime. The couple derived enormous pleasure and intellectual stimulation from the daily contact they had with their paintings, pastels, gouaches and sculptures, and now they wanted to share this experience with others. To safeguard the unity of their distinguished collection in perpetuity, the Batliners set up the Herbert and Rita Batliner Art Foundation, which transferred the artworks to the Albertina as a permanent loan.
The Albertina is a museum in the Innere Stadt (First District) of Vienna, Austria. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th century art, some of which will be on permanent display. The museum also houses temporary exhibitions. Vienna’s Albertina was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustian Bastion. In 1745, it was refurbished by the director of the Hofbauamt, Emanuel Teles Count Silva-Tarouca, to become his palace. The building was later taken over by Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen. He used it as his residence and later brought his graphics collection there from Brussels, where he had acted as the governor of the Habsburg Netherlands. For that purpose, he had the building extended by Louis Montoyer. Since then, the palace has immediately bordered the Hofburg. The collection was expanded by Albert’s successors. The collection was created by Duke Albert with the Genoese count Giacomo Durazzo (Austrian ambassador in Venice). In 1776 the count presented nearly 1,000 pieces of art to Duke Albert and his wife Maria Christina (Maria Theresia’s daughter). Count Giacomo Durazzo – brother of Marcello Durazzo (Doge of Genoa) – “wanted to create a collection for posterity that served higher purposes than all others: education and the power of morality should distinguish his collection….” In the 1820s Archduke Charles, the foster son of Duke Albert and Maria Christina, initiated further modifications of the building by Joseph Kornhäusel, which affected mostly the interior decoration. After Archduke Charles, his son Archduke Albrecht and then Albrecht’s nephew Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen lived in the building. In early 1919, the building and the collection passed from the Habsburgs into the ownership of the Republic of Austria. In 1920, the collection of prints and drawings was unified with the collection of the former imperial court library. The name Albertina was established in 1921. In March 1945, the Albertina was heavily damaged by bomb attacks. The Albertina was completely refurbished and modernized from 1998 to 2003, but the graphics collection did not reopen until 2008. Visit the museum’s website at … http://www.albertina.at