Contemporary art within old walls

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Admont Abbey GWK corner view © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Madonna Kaschauer © Michael Braunsteiner
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler

ASPECTS OF THE CONTEMPORARY ART COLLECTION OF THE ADMONT MONASTERY

 

The special exhibition 2024 offers representative insights into the most recent collection of Admont Abbey. It is dedicated to contemporary art and has been under construction since 1997. It currently consists of over 1000 works by around 180 Austrian artists, most of whom were born in the second half of the 20th century.

Since its opening in 2003, the museum of Admont Abbey has been known for its emphasis on the dialogue between old and contemporary art. The various museum departments also communicate with each other. Representing this dialogue, upon entering the contemporary art section, visitors are greeted by a Gothic Madonna: the Madonna with Child from the circle of Jakob Kaschauer. The reason for this surprise becomes apparent in the final room of the exhibition – please continue reading!

The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to Austrian painting from the 1980s onwards, which has its roots in "New Painting" and "New Abstraction" and has developed in various directions. These works by Siegfried Anzinger, Erwin Bohatsch, Herbert Brandl, Gunter Damisch, Alfred Klinkan, Alois Mosbacher, Hubert Scheibl, Hubert Schmalix, Walter Vopava, Erwin Wurm and Otto Zitko, among others, form an important foundation of the Admont Collection of Contemporary Art.

The second room seamlessly follows on from the theme of "Life, Death, Resurrection" from the 2024 anniversary exhibition, which can be seen one floor below. The central work is a symbol of baroque joie de vivre: Götz Bury's seemingly sumptuous "Gala Dinner", consisting purely of trash pieces.

Admont Abbey GWK Madonna Kaschauer © Michael Braunsteiner

Surrounding it are works of art that deal with transience and the question of what awaits us after death. Here we encounter three works from MADE FOR ADMONT series that are significant for the Admont collection and this exhibition: These include a painting from the recent series by Nikola Irmer. It shows animal specimens from the Admont Natural History Museum subtly transferred into the painterly medium. Furthermore, a large-format transformation of Josef Stammel's sculpture "Death" from the Admont Abbey Library into today's pictorial world by Michael Horsky. And a photographic work from the "Admont" series by Lois Renner, composed like an old painting, into which a Stammel cross has been integrated alongside other works from the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The original baroque cross by the monastery sculptor Josef Stammel hangs right next to it. 

Surprising interpretations of the cross motif can be found in Christian Eisenberger's flambéed sugar cross and Manfred Erjautz's Lego cross. Christoph Lingg takes up the theme of environmental destruction in his photographs. Deborah Sengl's preparation of a sheep wearing a jumper knitted from its own wool makes us smile.

The "MADE FOR ADMONT" programme was launched in 2000 with the first "Artist in Residence", Lois Renner. Hundreds of MADE FOR ADMONT works by over 70 artists are now represented in the collection. They are the results of specific localisation processes relating to the region, Admont Abbey, the museum and its contents. The medium of photography plays a central role.

The third exhibition area is dedicated to an important representative of this commissioned art genre: the multimedia Gesamtkunstwerk "Zeitperlen" (2005-2012) by Johannes Deutsch. The spectrum of his works on show here includes a paradise triptych, a multimedia opera and music experience with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, storyboard tableaux and a score. All works are based on an examination of the baroque splendour of the Admont Benedictine monk Fr Benno Haan. 

The fourth room is dedicated to seeing, not seeing, seeming to see. A video by Barbara Eisner-B. and works by Adi Brunner, Julie Hayward and Maria Hahnenkamp introduce you to the worldwide speciality of the MADE FOR ADMONT exhibition: the special collection "JENSEITS DES SEHENS - Kunst verbindet Blinde und Sehende". These works of art, which have been created for the Admont collection since 2002, do not focus on visual perception. They are designed with the highest quality standards for visually impaired, blind and sighted people and initiate a dialogue.

 

Admont Abbey GWK Peter Unterthurner © Michael Braunsteiner

Brigitte Kowanz confronts us with a text translated into light morse code. Heidrun Widmoser and Eva Schlegel blur reality. Tobias Pils paints in monochrome. Ruth Schnell generates words broken down into points of light with LED rods. Klaus Dieter Zimmer leaves open the question of whether we are looking at a painting or a sculpture. Uwe Bressnik's seemingly painted Saint Benedict turns out to be a subtle creation of a small sculpture of the saint made up of tiny crosses ground into metal dust. Judith Huemer's photo appears colourful and cheerful, but on closer inspection conceals a serious theme. Dieter Huber makes a painterly assertion and shows the pen as it really is. You can't believe everything you see or read!

The last exhibition area leads us back to the Gothic Kaschauer Madonna. She not only watches over the entire exhibition. Above all, it is the central theme of this area, which is dedicated to medieval Madonnas. French artist Guillaume Bruère's variations on the Admont Madonna and the Admont Vespers painting are on display. Bruère works quickly and creates many works in a very short time with energetic, vibrant strokes. He draws in museum collections. He created both motifs, originally located in Admont Abbey, before the originals in the Alte Galerie at the Landesmuseum Joanneum in Graz.

In his "Alpine Madonnas", the South Tyrolean Peter Unterthurner explores sacred sculptures from the Middle Ages, when life was hard and faith was deep. The photographic selection from this series partly overlaps with Bruère's motifs. We encounter the Kaschauer Madonna in the original and in contemporary artistic interpretations. Unterthurner also transforms the "Alpine Madonna" motifs into a multimedia level. 

In a special room, the different paths of development of two artists who were important for the Styrian art scene in the post-war period become tangible: Hannes Schwarz (1926-2014) and Gustav Zankl (*1929).

Other works from the contemporary art collection are integrated into the context of other museum areas.

With works by: Siegfried Anzinger, Erwin Bohatsch, Herbert Brandl, Guillaume Bruère, Adi Brunner, Hannelore Demel-Lerchster, Gunter Damisch, Johannes Deutsch, Christian Eisenberger, Manfred Erjautz, Bruno Gironcoli, Maria Hahnenkamp, Julie Hayward, Michael Horsky, Dieter Huber, Lisa Huber, Judith Huemer, Nikola Irmer, Jakob Kaschauer, Alfred Klinkan, Sebastian Köpcke, Brigitte Kowanz, Christoph Lingg, Rudi Molacek, Alois Mosbacher, Tobias Pils, Lois Renner, Arnulf Rainer, Hubert Scheibl, Eva Schlegel, Hubert Schmalix, Ruth Schnell, Hannes Schwarz, Deborah Sengl, Josef Stammel, Peter Unterthurner, Walter Vopava, Volker Weinhold, Franz West, Heidrun Widmoser, Erwin Wurm, Gustav Zankl, Klaus-Dieter Zimmer, Otto Zitko

Admont Abbey GWK Gustav Zankl © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK corner view © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Gustav Zankl © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Götz Bury © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Hannes Schwarz Gustav Zankl © Michael Braunsteiner
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Admont Abbey GWK Madonna Kaschauer © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Julie Hayward © Michael Braunsteiner
Admont Abbey GWK Madonna Kaschauer Guillaume Bruere © Michael Braunsteiner
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler
Stift Admont - Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2024 © Thomas Sattler