Staying true to custom, like all other Israelis, I found myself spending August not in Israel. Austria was the destination and Vienna was the peak of excitement. Vienna, a city of emperors and palaces and art. What could a street art lover from Tel Aviv find? Not to worry, there was plenty!
First things first, Vienna is a Mecca for art and museum lovers. While I love all things street, edgy and anti-institution, the art history graduate in me had to check some of these marvelous treasure troves off my list. The Albertina Museum, just across the street from the glorious Vienna state opera house, has a permanent display of the Habsburg State Rooms from the 19th century in which one can admire original sketches and pieces by old masters like Da Vinci and Viennese icons of Modernism like Klimt and Schiele.
However along with this extravagant piece of history, was an excellent exhibition of contemporary art. Look! New Acquisitions was a unique display of a group of contemporary art recently purchased for the museum’s collection. Surprisingly so, my Tel Aviv street art eye was able to spot a cool connection to the streets of Tel Aviv, even in this distant setting. Burhan Dogancay is a 20th century American Turkish artist who is mostly known for his pieces inspired by walls in the urban landscape of the mid-20th century. During the 70’s Dogancay started a project of photographing walls all over the world. “Walls of the World” actually started in Israel! Graffiti and street art served as a central source of inspiration for this ambitious and innovative project. The pieces in the exhibition have words and letters in Hebrew that can easily be identified.
The paper pieces Dogancay created based on his photographs in Israel are on display in the exhibition Look! New Acquisitions in ongoing until October 8th at the Albertina Museum.
After the museum led me to walls I was thinking I should cut the middle man and find some walls for myself. Vienna has a wonderful source of information for this, the website Vienna Murals. A quick look will prove that Vienna is rich in art in the public space just as it is between the museum and gallery walls. I was specifically intrigued by the walls on the canal banks. Vienna, who’s city center or Innerstaad, is located south to the Danube River, is parted by an arm of the river, the Donaukanal. On the banks one can find many restaurants and bars, and one in particular needed to be checked out – The Vienna Tel Aviv Beach. Equipped with sand and lounge chairs, this place serves cold drinks with a beachy ambiance, and is named after the best beach in the world, at least I think so. On the walls of the bank are dozens of large scale murals to enjoy with a drink in your hand.
Finally after such long walks and such great art, you can’t help but look for a meal. The Vienna Naschmarket is the coolest place to go, offering many small, young and hip places to grab a bite from a variety of different cuisines. If you thought the Israeli street art scene didn’t pop up here – think again. At Neni, they not only serve great Israeli food, but they also have a piece by our local favorite duo – Dede Bandaid and Nitzan Mintz. At night the market booths are closed and their gates are covered in art pieces. If you take a walk around you can’t miss the two large walls they created there.