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Vienna: A City of Contemporary Art and History

Austria's capital, Vienna boasts a prestigious intellectual and artistic heritage, and a sophisticated contemporary art scene. Home to Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Adolf Loos, not to mention Mozart, Beethoven, and Freud, this European cultural hub on the Danube teems with prominent historical and contemporary art institutions set amidst the 13th-century imperial palace of the Habsburgs and early-20th-century Art Nouveau landmarks.

The cultural past and present of Vienna are respectively encapsulated in the locations of the Museums Quartier, where the museums that house much of Vienna's historical art collections can be found, and the Brotfabrik (the former Anker Bread Factory), where various contemporary art institutions are gathered to form the powerhouse of Vienna's art scene.

Austria and Europe's art heritage, from neo-classical to pop art can be traced through institutions such as the Leopold and Belvedere Museums, the Museums of Fine Arts and Applied Arts, the Secession building (with its iconic golden dome), Kunst Haus Wien, and mumok. Major institutions such as Kunsthalle Wien, in addition to 21er Haus, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, and smaller galleries like Galerie Krinzinger provide support, inspiration, and exhibition space for Austrian and international contemporary artists in Vienna. Some galleries, such as Galerie nächst St. Stephan, have been supporting the avant-garde for many decades, while others are new to the scene.

Photography and design traditionally remain a strong interest in Vienna. A number of the galleries in the Brotfabrik (OstLicht, Anzenberger Gallery, Galerie Photon) focus on contemporary photography. Nonetheless, hosting the annual Vienna Contemporary international art fair, the city is exposed to and influenced by a range of international art trends. Held for a week in Autumn, the fair focuses on the art of Central Europe, enticing international collectors and artists alike.

Art on the streets of Vienna is also a common sight. Public art by Austrian and international artists ranging from sculpture to graffiti murals is scattered liberally around the public spaces of the city. Over the past 20 years international artists and leading Austrian masters have provided art for the U-bahn (the city's subway) in the form of mosaic murals, sculpture, and installation.

Image: Vienna, Austria. Photo: Pedro Szekely (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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