The Vienna Kunstkammer
The Kunstkammer of Vienna, the biggest cabinet of curiosities in the world
The legendary Kunstkammer has opened again at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) of Vienna, in Austria. Ten years of meticulous restoration in the museum's laboratories have resulted in twenty rooms and three hundred showcases at the cutting edge of technology. Beneath painted ceilings and coloured marbles, this is the biggest cabinet of curiosities in the world, covering a thousand years of history. In the Renaissance, all great princes or curious-minded humanists had to have their own Kunstkammer, literally meaning "chamber of arts". Some added a "Wunderkammer" or "cabinet of marvels", expressing their keen interest in nature. If this term is somewhat clichéd today, it was not so at the time. The Medici and the Habsburgs jointly tried to outdo each other. Precious stones, seeds and shells poured from caravels. Time was of no account; gold and silver flowed like water. Artists moved around from court to court. In the house of the Habsburgs of Austria, Frederick III (1415-1493) assembled the pieces of an imperial treasure trove. His descendant, Ferdinand I (1503-1564), brother of Charles V, brought them together in a Kunstkammer (1565). His sons continued the tradition, each with their own collections. The ambassador to Maximilian II (1527-1576) in Vienna brought him ostrich eggs and rock crystal. At Ambras Palace in Innsbruck, Ferdinand II of Tyrol (1529-1595) added a number of natural curiosities to his Wunderkammer, while Charles II (1540-1590) enriched his own at Graz. Meanwhile, Ferdinand I's aunt, Margaret of Austria, was probably the first woman in the 16th century to take an interest in exotic objects, which she readily showed to Albrecht Dürer in her cabinet at Malines in the Netherlands.
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Frieze New York, from 9 to 12 May in Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan. The young, avant-garde and highly European fair has now stolen the limelight from the historical Armory Show. A vital stage for conquering the American art market…
Souvenirs of the legendary Lutétia Hotel on the Paris Rive Gauche, illustrated books by the Iranian poet Salah Stétié, a Monogold by Yves Klein, a painting by the Dutch artist Eglon Van Der Neer (Great Lady) and funerary furnishings from the 13th Egyptian dynasty are just some of the highlights of the sales in France…
China once more features large in the game of auctions, posting some thundering results from Hong Kong to Paris (Chicken Cup from period of Chenghua, oil on canvas by Zao Wou-ki…). And for once, the French decorative arts have followed suit.
"De la Chine aux Arts Décoratifs". For the first time, this exhibition unveils the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs' collection of Chinese objets d’art, exceptional for their quality and diversity.
From 23 to 25 May, 35 galleries are opening for the very first "Collectors' Weekend" in France. They are all galleries with well established reputations and a variety of profiles, ranging from the historic (Jean Fournier and Jaeger Bucher) to the more forward-looking (Cortex Athletico and Laurent Mueller).
After the Armory Show, which devoted its fifth "Focus" to China, Art Paris Art Fair included a window onto contemporary Chinese creation. The choice of China was a timely one, because the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China involves a series of events in Paris.
The legendary Kunstkammer has opened again at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, Austria, following ten years of meticulous restoration in the museum's laboratories. This is the biggest cabinet of curiosities in the world, covering a thousand years of history…
May 2014 Edition
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