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Interieur mit weiblichem Portrait, 1910

Special Exhibition
3 March – 5 June 2005

The paintings and drawings of Arnold Schönberg, the composer, music theorist, painter, teacher, and mentor of classical modernism in music, are the subject of a major special exhibition at the Arnold Schönberg Center.

Photos © Gyula Fodor

Both as a person and as an artist Schönberg opposed any accommodation and fought his whole life against “that meanness of spirit which simply marks out its own limited territory for no other reason than to make it easy to grasp.” The emotional intensity of his paintings and drawings had impressed contemporaries such as Albert Paris Gütersloh, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka, Franz Marc, Carl Moll as well as Max Oppenheimer, and is still highly relevant to us today.

Schönberg’s painting frequently revolves around the themes of Gaze and Vision. Moreover, there are portraits, self-portraits, landscapes, and drafts of stage set designs. As in his musical works, Schönberg’s style of composition for the paintings completed roughly between 1906 and 1911 is that of free association; he does not paint on account of a “beautiful and charming” picture but to “record his subjective impression” (Wassily Kandinsky). The exhibition will present Arnold Schönberg’s pictorial works – including paintings and drawings as yet unknown – in new contextual relationships.

Schönberg ephemera, a series of unpublished writings, letters, and contemporary documents, will bring to life the first exhibitions of the paintings, will allow insight into friendships with artists and will give details of the painting years expressed through artistic repositioning and biographical crises.

An individual section is dedicated to works of the Austrian expressionist Richard Gerstl. Portraits of Schönberg by his contemporaries Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, and Max Oppenheimer, show an artist who was able to “express himself in the way of a painter” and thereby wished “not more than exactly his vision – how it ought to be done” (Oskar Kokoschka).

Image above: Arnold Schönberg: Interieur mit weiblichem Portrait, 1910