Inspirational Beethoven: A Symphony in Pictures from Vienna 1900, Leopold Museum, Vienna: 27 November 2020-4 April 2021

An exhibition in the Leopold Museum showing how Beethoven became a source of inspiration and reference for exponents of Viennese Modernism fighting for renewal and recognition in fin-de-siècle visual arts.

Beethoven’s music inspired many. Amongst them was Viennese Jugenstil artist and Kilmt colleague, Josef Maria Auchentaller. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, known as the Pastoral Symphony inspired him to create a monumental pictorial program in 1898 to adorn the music room of his father-in-law’s Viennese villa. The ensemble, consisting of five paintings, represents the first artistic-pictorial realization of all movements of a Beethoven symphony and is a singular example of the tradition of music rooms.

For a man associated with classical music in its most formal sense, Beethoven has an undiminished influence on an eclectic variety of creative arts. The exploration of his work by Auchentaller illustrates the high esteem in which the composer was held by artists of the Vienna Secession, who even put on a beethoven exhibition in 1902, for which Gustav Klimt created his Beethoven Frieze. The Inspirational Beethoven exhibition at the Leopold Museum takes a closer look at an earlier Auchentaller work, where the artist also used Beethoven as his muse. The particular point of the collection is that Auchentaller really did rely entirely on the music as inspiration and motif, turning a symphony into physical form through art. Each painting represents one of the five movements.

The Inspirational Beethoven exhibition reconstructs that very music room and ensemble. It also juxtaposes Auchentaller’s paintings with works by other artists of the time (including Klimt) to further highlight the influence of Beethoven on the visual arts decades beyond his death.

JOSEF MARIA AUCHENTALLER Elfenreigen (nach Beethovens Pastorale- Symphonie, 1. Satz), 1898/99 © Andreas Maleta, aus der Victor & Martha Thonet Sammlung, Galerie punkt12 Foto: amp, Andreas Maleta Press & Publication, Wien, 2019
JOSEF MARIA AUCHENTALLER Elfenreigen (nach Beethovens Pastorale- Symphonie, 1. Satz), 1898/99 © Andreas Maleta, aus der Victor & Martha Thonet Sammlung, Galerie punkt12 Foto: amp, Andreas Maleta Press & Publication, Wien, 2019
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