This week I went to the museum of art history (Kunsthistorisches Museum) to spend an hour with my favorite pieces. In the morning hours, when the tourists are not yet out in full force, it is wonderful to stroll through the museums vast halls, practically alone, the only sound being my own footsteps on the parquet, surrounded by beauty and a feeling of centuries stretching out behind me, history in the very air I breathe.
I have always been drawn more to sculptures and objects of design that fuse art and functionality (at least theoretically) than to paintings.
I can spend a long time staring entranced at the objects in the Kunstkammer (a word even the museum refuses to translate, it names the heart of the museum’s collections of art objects made under the Hapsburg reign).
In the Kunstkammer you can see the most intricately made sculptures, furniture, tapestries, dishes and objects for daily use (even pefume bottles!) that made the artisans of Austria’s empire famous the world over.
One particular exhibit of the Kunstkammer that never fail to impress me is the work of an unknown artist active in the early 17th century, the so called Furienmeister (Master of the Furies). His ivory sculptures are breathtaking. My favorite is the Fury, an androgynous figure of an enraged fury in full movement. The sculpture is incredibly dynamic, but what really gets to me is the face and the hand. So intricately made, so bewitching in its expression, I alway end up spending most of my time in front of it and coming back for a last look at the end of each visit.
The Fury is the work of art that touches me the most, equally drawing me in and repelling me, for reasons I cannot quite fathom, nor do I want to. Some things are best left unanalyzed and just to be enjoyed.
Another amazing thing is this ship of pure gold, it is my older son’s favorite.
The Saliera by Benvenuto Cellini is definitely the most famous salt dish in history. It came to even more fame when it was stolen from the museum by an amateur thief in 2003 who kept it under his bed for almost three years before the police got too close for comfort and he decided to give himself up and the Saliera was returned to the museum (who had a vertiable publicity debacle on their hands).
This is the creepiest room in the classics collection. Heads on sticks in eerie lightning – it looks just fabulous and you can’t walk this room without a shiver down your spine.
This is a snapshot of the café at the KHM from above, there are not many places where you can get a coffee and a pastry in greater style, I love it there.
Finally I want to share one painting I love very much, Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s Hunters in the Snow. Especially in winter it touches a nerve with me and I enjoy standing before it and looking at the neverending wealth of detail that unveils something new everytime. I love that with most of Pieter Brueghel’s work, but somehow this one is my favorite. I think it is the iceskating children that I love the most…
I think we are extremely lucky here in Vienna to have such amazing works of art on permanent exhibition. If you come to visit the city, make the Kunsthistorisches Museum your first stop!
What is the piece of art that touches you?